I've often thought that Bethesda and many fanfictions didn't capitalize on the potentially lonely aspects of being a one-man army. This was hinted at when the Dragonborn is referred to as a 'doom driven hero', clearly someone who is destined towards destruction. Whether this is destruction of his enemies, those around him in general, or himself, remains to be seen. Perhaps all three. There will be a psychological element in this story, after all, the Dragonborn is only one man, and the pressure of saving the entire world multiple times lies squarely on his shoulders alone. That sort of thing has got to make a man fairly miserable and stressed, not to mention uncertain about his own morality. The Dragonborn in this story will be a man, mainly just because I feel like the iconic Dragonborn is male (trailers, fan-made movies, etc). His name is Marcus Lavernius, a half nord, half imperial, about 21 years old.
Because this is my first story, I'd be really appreciative of feedback regarding what you like/don't like about the story, and I'll do my best to incorporate it into any future writing. That said, this is still my own creation, and I'll be making the story how I like it. Expect violence, crappy humor, romantic tension, and other characteristics of normal Skyrim fanfictions, but I doubt I'll do any proper 'lemons' as the kids call them. Maybe once Serana enters the picture, I might reconsider :) Regardless, there is going to be romantic scenes and developments with many of the female NPC's in the game, especially the ones that I consider to be left out in terms of development and storytelling. Just don't always expect a happy ending. Most elements of the story I will keep canonical, but most conversations and a few quests will be changed to better incorporate realism and the certain personality of Marcus, as well as a few of my own adaptions of the story. Despite having over 1000 hours in the game, I can't recall all dialogue off the top of my head, and I'm too lazy to go look it up, so be prepared for some minor inconsistencies.
A Doom-Driven Hero: Unbound
Pain. That was the first thing he felt. A sharp, splitting pain in his head that pounded in unison with his heartbeat. He heard the occasional rattle of iron on wood, and whine of a horse as his mind gradually became self aware again. Marcus opened his gluey eyes, one at a time. He was greeted with more pain, as the sunlight glinting off a bank of snow opposite seared a bright burning sensation into his skull. Marcus saw that he was sitting in the back of a carriage, along with three other men. Marcus tried to rub his forehead where he just knew he sported a massive bruise, but to his surprise realized that his hands were tied with a thick cord. It was very tight, and cut in just enough to cause even more pain when he moved his arms. One of the men was seated directly opposite Marcus, and was studying him with a curious expression, eyes staring out from behind long blonde hair.
"Hey, you," he called.
Marcus looked up from his hands, confusion and a dawning shock on his face as he began remembering the events leading up to ending up in this carriage.
The man kept talking, "you were trying to get across the border weren't you? Walked right into that imperial trap, same as us, and that thief over there." The man nodded in the direction of the second man in the carriage, a guy in the same ragged clothing as Marcus, with a fearful expression on his face.
The thief shot the blond man a dirty look, before speaking.
He said, "Damn you Stormcloaks, Skyrim was fine until you came along… the Empire was nice and lazy. If they hadn't been looking for you, I could've stolen that horse and been halfway to Hammerfell by now."
The blonde man just snorted in response, but the thief kept talking, this time with his words directed toward Marcus.
He said, "You and me, we shouldn't be here, it's these Stormcloaks the empire wants"
Marcus' eyes widened slightly, as the gravity of the situation he was in finally hit him. He looked to the front of the carriage, where a man wearing the traditional imperial armor was driving the carriage.
"I've ended up with a bunch of Stormcloaks caught by the Legion?" Marcus asked with a very worried expression.
The blonde man simply nodded, then looked toward the front of the carriage, where another one could be seen about 50 meters in front. It too, had plenty of stormcloak soldiers on it.
Marcus began looking very worried, events over the last 24 hours began replaying in his mind.
He was running, from a life of really shitty memories, and decided that the best place to bury a past was in a war torn country, where there would no doubt be plenty of work for someone well educated and half-decent in a fight.
Well, Marcus thought, that plan sure didn't work out.
He had reached the border crossing, and was surprised to see a lack of imperial soldiers there. It seemed like they'd all left, taking their armor and weapons with them. As Marcus ventured into Skyrim, he was greeted with a sight of about a dozen Stormcloak soldiers walking up the road. Marcus stopped walking, and stood still for a few seconds, unsure what to do. That was when an arrow hit him in the head, and everything went black. Given the fact that he wasn't dead, yet, Marcus assumed the arrow must have been a flat headed arrow, one that simply had the broad head removed and thus was intended to render unconscious, not kill.
"What's wrong with him huh?"
The thief's words brought Marcus back into the present. The thief was looking at the third man, a noble by the looks of him. He wore a large black and grey outfit, with a fur cloak.
"Stay your tongue!" The blonde man barked, "you're speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the true high king of Skyrim!"
The thief looked shocked, and Marcus was slightly surprised himself.
"Ulfric Stormcloak?" the Thief exclaimed, "you're the leader of the rebellion… but if you're here… Oh Gods! Where are they taking us?"
Marcus thought, I think we both know the answer to that, you poor fool…
The blonde man said, "I don't know where they are taking us, but Sovngarde awaits..."
Sovngarde… that was the name of the nordic afterlife. Marcus hung his head sadly. He, and every other person in the backs of these carriages, were heading towards their execution. Marcus didn't really know whether to feel depressed, accepting, bitter, or grieving. His life, at least in the past few years, had been one train wreck of a disaster after another. He had done his best, but now, all his decisions seemed to lead him here, to the grave.
And no-one is left to bury me, or even care that I'm dead…
Marcus looked up to the sky, and wondered where his soul would end up. Probably somewhere that sucks, knowing his luck.
The Thief started muttering frantic prayers to whatever divines might be listening today, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
"Hey, what village are you from, horse thief?" The blonde man looked tiredly sideways at him.
"Uhh… I'm Lokir, from Rorikstead, and I… wait, why do you even care?" Lokir looked sideways at him with growing anger. Briefly, Marcus thought about the 5 stages of grief, and wondered if Lokir would have enough time to experience all of them.
"A nord's last thoughts should be of home… I'm Ralof, of Riverwood," Ralof replied. He then looked at Marcus, prompting him to speak his own name.
"I'm Marcus Lavernius… from Chorral." Marcus started to drift back into his memories, memories of the seemingly brief time we spent in his first home. He pulled himself back to the present, there was no point in reflecting on any more of his past, it'd only serve to sully the remaining moments of his life.
The Carriage train was now approaching a city. As they neared, the gates opened and a watchman called out, "General Tullius Sir! The headsman is waiting!"
"Good," came the response from the man in front with ornate armor, "let's get this over with."
As they trundled though the small city, Ralof began reminiscing about his experiences here, something about being juniper walls and mead berries. A young boy expressed his excitement at seeing the soldiers, but his father sternly told the boy to head inside the house. An execution would probably ruin the kid's appetite. A few villagers whispered excitedly to each other when they saw Ulfric. Marcus wasn't really listening, he was trying to focus on the sky, and it's calming blue colour. It seemed to blend so well with the snowy tips of the surrounding mountains. Any sensory stimulus to distract him from the fact that he was about to die, was very welcome. The carriage was brought to a stop, in front of a tower.
"Shouldn't keep the God's waiting for us..." muttered Ralof, standing up.
"Step forward when your name is called, one at a time!" an Imperial officer barked. Ulfric went first, then Ralof. Marcus hung back, not wanting to be seen, as if resorting to his childish shy tendencies would save him. When Lokir was called forward, he began shouting, "No! I'm not a rebel! You can't do this!"
With those words, he began sprinting away, trying to make for the gate at the far end of the city.
With a single order, the imperial officer called upon nearby archers, who promptly drew their bows, aimed, and fired upon Lokir. One arrow caught him in the chest, the other embedded itself in his neck. With a short cry, Lokir fell on the ground, dead.
Marcus looked sadly at him, unsure whether to commit him to memory as brave, or stupid.
"Wait…" A nordic imperial soldier in front of Marcus, the one with the list, had his eyes fixed on him. "Who are you?"
Marcus stepped forward, and mustered enough strength to speak without wavering.
"My name is Marcus Lavernius, and I am no criminal, and no Stormcloak."
"Are you a nord or an imperial?"
Marcus was used to the question, his name implied imperial, but his stature and face was more nordic in nature.
"Both, mixed descent."
The imperial man nodded, and wrote a few words on his list, before looking over to his officer.
"Captain, what should we do? He's not on the list?"
"Fuck the list, he goes to the block!"
"… By your orders, Captain." The imperial soldier looked toward Marcus, apologetic.
He said, "I'm sorry."
Marcus looked at him, a long look, that carried the question, 'what good does that do me?'
The man just looked at his feet, before nodding toward the officer. Marcus began walking toward the rest of the prisoners, and stood next to a red haired man.
General Tullius began speaking to Ulfric, with a harsh, commanding voice.
"Ulfric Stormcloak, some here in Helgen call you a hero… but a hero doesn't use a power like the voice to kill his king and usurp his throne!"
Helgen, thought Marcus, So that's the name of the town I'm to die in…
"You started this war!" continued Tullius angrily, "plunged Skyrim into chaos, and now the empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace!"
Ulfric simply grumbled into his gag.
A distant roar echoed through the mountains. It didn't sound like any beast Marcus had ever heard.
"What was that?" asked the apologetic imperial soldier. Clearly, the sound was of something large.
Tullius said, "It's nothing, let's carry on."
The guards seemed to dismiss the sound after that, but Marcus felt strange when he heard it. Kind of as if he wanted to search for what made the noise, or match it with his own voice, somehow.
Tullius indicated toward a priest, who began speaking our last rites.
She didn't get a proper chance though, because the red haired man next to Marcus shouted angrily.
"For the love of Talos, shut up, and let's get this over with!" With those words, he began walking to the block.
"Come on! I haven't got all morning!"
Yeah, you really don't, Marcus thought.
The imperial officer walked forward, and pushed the man down to the block.
"My ancestors are smiling at me Imperials, can you say the same?"
Marcus thought, I know I can't…
The headsman raised his axe, the sharp blade catching the morning light. Then it fell, and the man's head rolled away with a loud thunk.
So undignified, Marcus thought, but at least he faced it with a brave face and an iron will.
Marcus tried to harden his heart, to stop his hands from shaking. He wanted to face his death with the same courage.
The officer pointed at Marcus.
"Next! The imperial-nord halfbreed."
The roar echoed throughout the valley, louder, this time. Some soldiers began shifting nervously. Whatever the noise was, they didn't like it.
The apologetic soldier said, "There it is again, what on earth is making that noise?"
The officer simply shouted for Marcus to come forward once more, ignoring her soldier.
Marcus looked down, and breathed out. He stood tall, and walked forward as proud as he could. He would not die a coward.
Marcus looked down at the block, and was pushed down so his neck prickled against the wood. Gazing up at the axe about to cut short his life, and his height, Marcus breathed out one last time.
An extremely loud roar was heard, coming from the mountain behind Helgen, and a huge flying beast flew out over it, making for the city. It was easily the size of a house, with gigantic wings that looked like they could tear a horse in half.
"What in Oblivion is that?!" shouted Tullius.
It flew over the city, and landed with a loud crash on the tower in front of the prisoners. The headsman fell down, giving Marcus a full view at the beast.
"DRAGON!" screamed several people at once.
It was covered in huge spikes, and the small gaps of exposed skin seen underneath its black scales glowed bright red. It's eyes looked like small gates to some hellish plane, and it looked over the city and its terrified people before acting. It opened its maw and let loose a colossal sound that seemed to shake the heavens, turning the sky red and making it rain fireballs. It then let loose another sound, which channeled into a white circle of energy that exploded near Marcus, sending him flying. His vision went all blurry, not because of the explosion, but because the sound that the dragon made, the energy that came from its mouth, it shook him to his core, stirring something primal within him.
Next thing he knew, Ralof was beside him, pulling him to his feet and screaming at him, "Get up you! The God's aren't going to give us another chance!"
Next thing he knew, Marcus was sprinting through the city, which was already largely on fire and falling apart. He sprinted up into tower with a few other Stormcloaks and on Ralof's command, made his way up through the tower. Another man was up there, trying to move some rocks out of the way so they could climb higher. Marcus was about to help him, when the wall to his right exploded, and the dragon poked its head into the tower, blasting everything it could with fire. Marcus staggered backwards, and fell down the stairs, avoiding most of the blast. Marcus rolled to soften the landing, and broke into a sprint. He jumped down to the first floor, and kicked open a flaming door, only to see the imperial soldier who had helped him initially, dragging a kid away from his (presumably) his father's battered body, and behind a house. From Marcus' position, he could see the dragon land behind the father's still alive body. The boy called out to his dad, begging him to get up. The dragon opened its mouth and promptly blasted the father to fiery pieces with its breath.
The soldier told the boy to stay with an older man, and then he ran over to Marcus.
He shouted, "Still alive Marcus? I'm Hadvar, and you'll want to keep close to me if you want to stay that way."
Marcus simply nodded, still shocked at seeing a boy's father get torched in front of him. Marcus and Hadvar began moving through the flaming wreckage of the city, with soldiers fighting and dying in equal amounts all around him. Occasionally the dragon would fly past, or land near them, and Marcus would be greeted by the sight of another cluster of people dying.
They eventually came to the main entrance to the keep, where they saw Ralof jump down from a wall, and land in front of them.
"Ralof, you damned traitor!" Hadvar shouted, "get out of my way!"
"We're escaping Hadvar," Ralof responded, "You're not stopping us this time!"
Then the dragon came down and busted a large section out of the wall behind the three men, and fixed its murderous gaze on the three of them. Its eyes settled on Marcus. Ralof and Hadvar both ran for the keep, their quarrel cast aside in favor of survival, but Marcus was transfixed. He couldn't seem to move. He just gazed up at the massive hulking mass of life-destroying creature in front of him, as if the world only consisted of him, and the dragon… Then Ralof and Hadvar both sprinted up to him, grabbed him, and practically carried him into the keep. The dragon seemed to watch them go, then leapt into the sky, and continued laying waste to the city.
Inside, Hadvar and Ralof looked at each other, then at Marcus.
Ralof shouted, "What the bloody hell were you doing?! You're lucky that thing didn't incinerate you!"
Hadvar shook Marcus, who seemed still in a daze, before walking over to the centre of the room.
"We need to move," he said, "that thing is probably 10 minutes away from bringing this tower down on our heads, so we best clear out of here."
Ralof turned to Hadvar, "How? That thing is still out there, and there's no other way to escape the city, what with your imposing imperial walls and whatnot!"
Hadvar replied, "Keep your voice down, fool, and you're wrong, there's an underground passage that leads out of the keep!"
Ralof snorted, "How on earth do you know that, imperial?"
Hadvar went quiet, and looked at his feet. Then he responded, "The… leftovers… from the torture room, that's where they are disposed."
Everyone was quiet for a moment. Hadvar looked slightly ashamed, and walked over to a wall where a bunch of keys lay on hooks. He grabbed one, and continued over to a steel door on the opposite side of the room.
Ralof looked at Hadvar, then said quietly, "By Talos Hadvar, what did you sell your soul to the imperials for? Do you even understand the laws we used to have regarding torture?"
Hadvar turned around, face indiginant, "The imperials are the best hope for stability, Ulfric is a bigoted, power hungry -"
Marcus shouted, "Shut it!"
The two arguing men, looked at Marcus. He had regained his sense, and was now looking at the two with a defiant expression.
"You can argue your shitty politics later," Marcus continued, "right now, we need to get the FUCK out of this place before we get crushed!"
The three men looked at each other for a short moment, then they all began moving at the same time. Ralof fetched a sword and an axe from a nearby chest, handing the sword to Marcus, while Hadvar unlocked the steel door on the other side of the room. They headed down further through the keep, with occasional tremors and roof collapses shaking the structure. After rounding one corner, they heard shouts and the clash of iron and steel up ahead.
Breaking into a run, the trio ran to the end of the corridor, and down some stairs, they were greeted with the sight of multiple cages and a couple of Stormcloaks fighting two imperials, an old man and a balding man.
Marcus took it all in within a second, and knew this was the torture chamber. He drew his sword and rushed to the Stormcloak's aid. Marcus came up behind the balding man and buried his sword in his back. The older man turned around in shock to see Marcus, allowing one of the Stormcloaks to sink his battleaxe into the old man's shoulder.
Ralof ran up, with Hadvar close behind.
He said to the two stormcloak's, "Was Jarl Ulfric with you?"
The female stormcloak shook her head, "I haven't seen him since the dragon showed up."
The male stormcloak moved toward Hadvar, "Who's this? Why isn't he bleeding out on the floor?
Marcus intervened, stepping in front of Hadvar, and said, "He's a friend, of no threat to you.
Ralof looked at Hadvar, and said, "more like a lost puppy in my eyes."
Hadvar simply turned away, and moved out of the room, into the caves underneath the keep.
Marcus followed him, but stopped on the way to rifle through a knapsack, taking out a few lockpicks.
Ralof beckoned for the two Stormcloaks to follow, but they shook their head.
"We'll stay here," the woman said, "in case Ulfric comes through."
Ralof nodded, then followed Marcus and Hadvar. They moved further into the caves, until they came to a large chamber. Marcus walked into the center of it, transfixed on the strange amounts of webbing that coated the floor and walls.
He said, "Is this some kind of algae? Is it common in Skyrim?" Marcus crouched down on one knee, inspecting a clump of the stuff on the floor. It was very sticky, kinda like a stringy glue.
Ralof and Hadvar walked into the cavern with him, at first confused, but a dawning understanding gradually crept up on them.
"Get back you fool!" Ralof shouted at Marcus, about 5 meters in front of him. But it was too late.
From a convenient hole in the roof, a gigantic spider dropped down and landed directly on top of Marcus.
Marcus let loose a loud scream of terror, before both Ralof and Hadvar leapt on the spider, slashing and cutting from all sides before it could harm Marcus.
It scuttled away from the three, moving to the edge of the cavern, assessing the threat.
Marcus staggered to his feet and drew his sword, his heart pounding madly in his chest. The spider moved forward quickly, and jumped at the trio, intent on sinking its massive mandibles into one of them. They all jumped aside, then used the opportunity to hack at the beast a little more, until it's remaining six legs gave out, and it slumped down, dead.
"What the fuck was that thing?!" Marcus shouted, moving away from the corpse.
Hadvar said, "A frostbite spider, basically something ripped straight out of your nightmares."
Marcus looked at the thing, and warily poked it with his toe, making sure it was dead. When he was certain, he inspected it up close. It really was the stuff of nightmares, multiple eyes, multiple legs, and two massive spikes under its face dripping venom. Marcus shivered, he really hoped he would never have to see one of those things again.
Once Marcus' breathing had returned to normal, the three moved further ahead. They entered another cavern, one with a stream running through it, and saw a bear. It was asleep, so they didn't engage it, just moving around and continuing on their way. Eventually, they saw a dazzling light up ahead, and knew they had escaped.
Ralof let out a breath of air he didn't realise he'd been holding. Hadvar closed his eyes and sighed in relief. Marcus quickened his pace, eager to be out of the cave.
Marcus gasped as the cold air of Skyrim hit him. He gazed out over the expansive land before him, seeing mountains, trees, and in the very far distance, plains. Then he heard the dragon's roar once again, dropped to the ground as it flew overhead. Marcus was terrified that it would see him, that it would turn and breath down that blast of fire that killed so many others that day. But the dragon flew onward, not noticing Marcus and the other two men hunkered down just outside of the cave exit. It's massive black body flew over the valley, and disappeared over the next mountain. Marcus wanted to feel relieved, but he also knew that if the dragon was leaving now, it thought there was no-one left alive in the city, which was probably correct.
"Looks like he's gone for good this time," Ralof said.
Hadvar said, "no way to know if he'll be back, but this place is going to be swarming with soldiers from all sides soon enough, we need to get out of here."
Marcus and Ralof nodded, and began walking down the hill.
After a short while, Marcus stopped walking. He needed to stop and think.
Ralof and Hadvar stopped, and looked back at him, unsure what he was doing. Marcus just waved them on, and said, "Go ahead, I'll catch up."
Ralof nodded, and said, "Riverwood is just down the road, meet us there, we'll be able to get you more settled."
With those words, Ralof and Hadvar continued onward, eager to put some miles between themselves and Helgen.
Marcus sat down on a rock, a few hundred meters from the cave exit, overlooking a lake. He felt like he was in some kind of dream. In half a day he'd had his life in mortal danger multiple times, one after the other. Not to mention that at least one dragon was now rampant in Skyrim. Dozens of fireballs and arrows hit that beast, and it didn't even slow down. Marcus doubted it even could be killed, at least not by any means that mortals had access to. It razed an entire city without pause, killing most of its occupants. Marcus shivered, he didn't like the chances of any city against that thing. As unsafe as Skyrim was before he arrived, it was about to get a lot more dangerous. Marcus laid back on the rock, and gazed into the heavens above. The sun was just past full rise, meaning there was still around 5 hours of solid daylight left, but it felt like the day had lasted a week. Marcus breathed out yet another sigh, and closed his eyes briefly.
It seemed like the divines weren't done with his soul just yet.
Chapter 1 done and dusted, and it probably sucked. I wanted to have both Ralof and Hadvar together, because I didn't like how killing heaps of Stormcloaks or Imperials has no ramifications later on. I have a few plans for the two of them later on. Also, the Alduin in this story is sort of based off the Deathwing Alduin mod, because I felt like Alduin could be a bit more badass looking. This'll probably end up being weekly updated, maybe more if people really like it. Feel free to review. Again, I appreciate all feedback.