A/N: One of the many stories in the Skyrim AU of A Season of Dragons and War. ASDW is a series of tales that take place in the same AU, being inspired by the modding community and my own fantasy of how I envisioned the game back in the day as if I was roleplaying. I hope you enjoy these Fanfics. So far, there are fifteen characters I am looking at that are prominent in the ASDW. They're all based on my own playthroughs of modded Skyrim.

This story itself is centered around an aspiring Mage who wants to learn everything he can about magic from its foundation to its potential.

A Season of Dragons and War – A Master of the Arcane

Chapter 1: Skyrim

There is nothing he won't do to achieve his goal of becoming the most powerful and knowledgeable Mage he can be. Can he rise above the challenges of college life, or will ambition not be enough?

4E 201, 17th of Last Seed

Falkreath Hold

I was never a fan of laziness. I also had a one-track mind when it came to my goals. Unfortunately, I never had anyone who supported me in my endeavors and was forced to shelve those goals until I could leave my home. My home was in Evermore. There was an occupation of the Aldmeri Dominion, who had been a strict one. Ever since the White-Gold Concordant was established, the Thalmor had decided that they could occupy and assert martial laws upon cities or towns to root out Talos Worshippers. It didn't help that the Dominion retreated from Hammerfell after a stalemate with them from their war with the Redguards. Along with martial law, came new mandates its citizens were forced to comply with. One of those mandates was the ban of magic so that no one could cast illusions to hide the worship of Talos. That occupation was still going strong for the last fifteen years. I wanted to learn magic in secret, but my family was very adamant and abusive about not endangering our lives. But my hardheadedness said, to oblivion with that.

I didn't break any laws. I didn't do anything to upset the local garrison of the Dominion. But I did do my research. It wasn't of magic in particular. It was of institutions that taught it. With the disbandment of Tamriel's Mages Guild, two splinter factions were born. The Synod and The College of Whispers. I learned what I could about them. My conclusion of the two was that they were more political than actually there to teach or study magic. They both tried to gain favor with the Elder Council, probably to become as renown as the previous Mage's guild. According to my information gathering, there were various dues to be paid before one could even learn a single spell from them. That wasn't a viable option. I was born into wealth, though not enough to pay thousands of coin to learn a measly spell. I was desperate to learn, but not that much. Besides, they banned an essential School of Magic known as Conjuration. Necromancy was also banned. The College of Whispers however had not and had seem to focus on it more. They did however spend more time guarding secrets and attempting to tear down the Synod's reputation. Once again, not a good match for me.

As for other institutions of magic, there were others that came to mind. The College of Sapiarchs located in the Summerset Isles, had a structure of learning far more advanced and educational than most other institutions. Also, the location was in the capitol of the Aldmeri Dominion. There was another institution in Morrowind, which I figured wasn't around anymore due to either the eruption of Red Mountain or destroyed by the invasion of the Argonians. There were many other institutions, but none were prominent enough that I could find history on. In reality, all of these institutions were very far away; as in, I'd have to travel through an entirely different province or two to get to them.

That is how I landed on my last selection; The College of Winterhold of Skyrim. There was only so much I could learn about it from hearsay, but I did learn that it was the most viable option to go and study at. It had gained both scorn and reputation in recent years. The Nords always distrusted magic, but the College of Winterhold was the one place where Magic was taught without persecution by the Nords. Or so I was told. So, I took some coin I saved up, bought some rations, blue robes, and passage to Whiterun in Skyrim. I was told that any city would do, but the carriage owner was keen on making the trip anyways. I had packed my things, which included spare clothes, my rations, gold, and my ebony dagger, gifted to me by my grandfather who had long since passed away; then left High Rock.

It took many days to leave High Rock, then go through Hammerfell, and finally pass through the Skyrim border near Falkreath. We passed Falkreath soon after, the journey taking us straight to a Whiterun. From there, I'd switch carriages to Windhelm, then hopefully get one to Winterhold. The Carriage driver spoke jovially about the Falkreath Hold's forests as we were on the road between Falkreath, and a town called Riverwood. He had done so for the previous places we had passed through since the journey started.

"Yeah," The driver said as three elves walked towards Falkreath passed us. They were Thalmor. Even Skyrim had an occupation, though hopefully it wasn't as impeding as the one in High Rock. "The forests are full of all kinds of creatures, but they mostly stay off the roads. It's the bandits you must worry about. But little Thunderfoot here can outrun them."

"That's good," I replied, "Hopefully we won't run into any." We hadn't been troubled at all passing through Hammerfell. Hopefully Skyrim was the same. "By the way, are there any towns between here and Whiterun that have any wares for mages?" I heard something behind the carriage. A female Khajiit with two blades on her back crossed the road with some serious speed. I was mildly curious about the Khajiit, but nothing after that.

"I'm not sure," The driver replied, "But I do know that Whiterun has an Alchemist store. And Falkreath had one."

"I wish I knew that beforehand," I said finally said slightly put off, "I would've asked if we could stop in Falkreath before continuing."

"Sorry about that lad."

"It's no problem," I replied. It was a solid thirty minutes before something else happened.

"Wow, that Argonian's in a hurry…" The carriage driver said. I looked ahead of us to see a pure black Argonian running down the road like there was a cauldron of gold waiting for him. He passed us almost as fast as the Khajiit ran across the road earlier.

"Wow," I said, "Busy Road. Anyways, how about…..Helgen? Is that what you called it?" I watched the Argonian make an abrupt right turn into the trees. Strange.


"Would it have anything for Mages?"

"Hmm," the driver spoke thinking on it, "I don't recall anything being there. Helgen acts as a town, a fort, training ground, and jail for the Imperial Legion. I think they have a mage detachment there, but I'm not sure. Speaking of Helgen, we're coming up on the Mill-side Road. The local Mill owner uses prisoner labor to keep it going. There's a trade deal going on. Prisoners can get a reduced sentencing if they work as the Mill's power. There's also…."

He was cut off by a loud roar that echoed over the skies and something flying above the town in the distance. "What in oblivion?" I asked.

"Is that…. a dragon?" The carriage driver asked. The Dragon breathed fire down before circling the town. But what got me was the fact that there were people in red armor and one elf in white elven armor running down the road from Helgen's Mill towards us.

"Stop that carriage immediately!" A Legionnaire demanded.

The carriage driver slowed the pace of the horse.

"I said halt!"

The carriage driver stopped the cart just as the contingent of soldiers arrived. "By order of General Tullius," A white haired older man said, "We're going to have to commandeer this carriage." My heart sank.

"Uhhh," The carriage driver said, "Yes…. sir?"

"We are in need or your services," The white-haired man said, "We need to vacate the area before that Dragon spots us. You will be compensated upon arrival at Solitude."

"Solitude!?" I exclaimed, "But…. that's in the opposite direction of Whiterun."

"I'm sorry my friend," the Carriage Driver said, "I know you paid for a trip there, but I have to follow orders of the legion."

"We will reimburse you later," The white-haired legionnaire said. I couldn't afford the time to backtrack. I needed to get to the college of Winterhold as soon as possible. I was eager to start learning magic. I had been delayed enough already.

"Don't worry about it," I said getting off the cart and grabbing my rucksack, "I'll walk from here." The legionnaires and elven woman got on the cart, taking up all six seats.

"Here." The white-haired man said throwing me a bag of Septims, "For your troubles."

"General," The Elf said, "We must leave immediately. The longer we stay close, the chances increase that the beast will find us."

"See you around lad," The carriage driver spoke, "Once again, I'm sorry."

"Think nothing of it," I replied.

That began my journey on foot. The distant echoes of a Dragon roaring could be heard as I continued down the road. It was a long walk. Eventually the roaring ended, and no sounds of flying beasts could be heard. I stopped my journey when I felt the need to eat a little bit of rations I had. I looked out over the lake several meters down a slope. A mountain and a Nordic ruin were on the other side. I heard something loud behind me. It was moving pretty darn loud to. Every step shook the ground. I looked to see a large man easily as tall as a Nordic house walking down from the general direction of Helgen. In front of him was an Orc with steel armor on that was painted green. But they were further up the path, not seeing me.

"Go to the cave," The Orc said gruffly, "I'll be there later tonight or early in the morning."

The giant grunted, before jumping off a small cliff that went to the lake. The orc sighed before walking behind him, but into a patch of forest down the slope, closer in the direction of Riverwood. I stayed where I was, shocked at what I just witnessed. An orc…. giving a giant orders? My eyes were on the Giant as it walked down the slope towards the lake. I never knew a giant could swim until I watched that one do so across that lake. It looked like a tiny speck on the other side. Sooner or later, that tiny speck started to scale the mountain until a combination of fog and rocky terrain camouflaged it. I sat there for several moments in complete shock. Nothing could have prepared me for the events that transpired today.

Eventually, I got over the shock enough to continue my journey. I arrived in Riverwood late that afternoon. The town was quiet but full of people. I noticed two men talking near a Blacksmith, one of them wearing a smutty apron and the other wearing some kind of iron armor. I had a few questions. Two involved the very real threats of a Dragon and Giant, while the last was about spell books. But how do you question someone about that kind of thing without seeming like you were touched by Sheogorath?

"Excuse me?" I said trying to speak as non-awkwardly as possible.

"Yes?" The Blacksmith asked, "How can I help you?"

"I'm looking to buy some spell books," The I said trying to keep cool, "Is there anywhere in town that sells them?" It was easier to talk about magic than the two threats that gave me a scare.

"Lucan might," The Blacksmith replied, "He own's the Riverwood Trader right across the street."

"Thanks," I replied looking at the said store. Then I just tried to wing it. "Oh. By the way, did you all see something strange earlier today?"

"You mean like magic?" The other man asked.

"Uh…. yeah," I replied trying to put it in words that weren't strange, "Something like that. There was something that was large, that I saw further back on the road. And a giant..." My mind was going blank due to not even believing my own words.

"Hmm a giant?" The blacksmith spoke seeming perplexed, "They mostly stay North of us. But they're not unheard of in the southern parts of Skyrim. I'd stay clear of it if I were you. You don't want to anger one of those."

"Yeah…." I spoke not even going to mention the Dragon, "I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the advice. I best be getting to the Riverwood Trader and seeing if I can find some books and warmer clothes."

"See you." The Blacksmith finalized.

I left the two and walked into the Riverwood Trader.

"Welcome to the Riverwood Trader!" A man said. He was an Imperial. He had various wares lined up on shelves and racks, "What can I do for you?"

"Umm," I said, "I was wondering if you had any Spell books."

"The only one I have is this one." Lucan said pulling out a book, "I didn't even buy it. Some mage dropped it off saying it was useless to him." It was the Conjure Familiar spell book, which I already knew.

"I know that spell already," I replied, "Thanks though."

"If you're looking to buy more," Lucan said, "The Whiterun Court Wizard might have more interesting books, but he's probably selling them at a high cost. Or the College of Winterhold. I hear they're teaching Mages better magic than anyone learning on their own."

"I'm actually traveling to the College of Winterhold now," I replied, "Which is another reason I came to your shop. Do you have any clothing for the colder climates?"

"Unfortunately," He said, "No. I have a shipment of furs coming in from our local Archer, but he's been busy as of late, but Whiterun would definitely have the type of clothing you need. It's the central Trading port for Skyrim."

"Then I'll try there," I replied, "Thank you for your time." What a waste of time. What kind of general goods store didn't have at least some kind of ware's I'd need. I walked out. Deciding it was time to call it a day, I took residence at the local Inn for the night.

The Inn was crowded. It had a Nord Bard performing, with a family of Redguards watching. A mother with three children. The bartender was behind a counter serving a drink to a rough looking Nord who looked too intoxicated to stand up. As I made my way across the Inn, the Redguard family started to turn in for the night. The children were chattering away. It was something about Whiterun. I minded my own business, ordered some food and a room, then turned in for the night.

The next morning the Redguard family had beat me getting up. I was still a little full, from the previous night's dinner, so I just turned in my room key and asked to fill up my waterskin full of water. Afterwards, I left the Inn.

Outside was the Redguard family and the warrior I saw the day before speaking with the Blacksmith. I caught the end of his question "…But were you at Helgen yesterday?"

"Why do you want to know?" The woman demanded putting her hand on her Scimitar. That was a common sword for Redguards. A lump started to form in my throat as adrenaline began to fill me. Please don't let a fight break out this early in the morning. I tried to walk around them, but they seemed to be walking in the same direction as I. Great.

"I mean no harm," The Nord Warrior quickly said, "I was there too. I thought I saw you there."

The woman sighed relaxing a little bit. "Yes," She replied, "we were there. But we got out right before that dragon attacked. Most people won't believe us. The Innkeeper was definitely skeptical. And the local drunk thought I was drunk….or touched by Sheogorath." Wait, so I'm not crazy! Normally, I'd avoid people and their conversations, deciding to mind my own business. This was a special occasion. How often did one hear anything about Dragons?

"I saw it too," I interjected almost excitedly, "But I wasn't in the city. I was on a carriage that was going towards Whiterun when I saw it. The carriage was commandeered by a man known as General Tullius, some legionnaires and some kind of high elf in white armor."

"That's why you were acting so strange when you got into town," The Warrior replied, "You looked nervous about something. I thought it was just a giant."

"It was both," I said sheepishly, "I didn't want to seem mad, but I saw both. I didn't think you'd believe me if I said something about a Dragon. Who would? But the strange thing about the giant was that it was talking to an Orc! And took orders from him."

"An Orc?" He asked.

"Yeah." I replied, "He was in green steel armor." It was a strange sight to behold, for sure.

"Wait…." He said, "I saw him yesterday too."

"You did?"

"Yeah, around midafternoon," the warrior replied, "He was coming out of the Riverwood Trader and went out the South gate."

"Then he must've been moving pretty fast then." I said in slight disbelief, "Because not long before that, he was on the road between Falkreath and Riverwood going into the woods while the giant crossed the lake below."

"We saw the green man too!" The youngest of the Redguard children piped up, "He was in the Inn buying bread when we got here!"

"Small world huh?" the Warrior commented rhetorically.

"Very." The Redguard replied. She stopped in her tracks, her oldest boy bumping into her rear end. "It appears we're heading in the same direction."

"So we are," I replied, "I assume everyone is going to Whiterun?" I was wondering how long it'd take anyone else to figure this coincidence out.

"We are," The Redguard replied.

"I am too." The Warrior answered, "and since we all are. Might as well travel together."

"I see no problem with that," The Redguard said.

I was bored. These people seemed okay, and it was really getting frustrating to not know someone's name in a conversation. "I guess this calls for introductions," I announced, "My name is Mathieu."

"I'm Myra," The Redguard woman spoke, "These are my children Rizo, Kira, and Silas."

The Nord Warrior didn't introduce himself at first. But then the Redguard girl asked him. "What about you mister?"

"I…." He said looking clearly uncomfortable, "Don't know my name little one. At the moment I don't remember anything before yesterday's events."

"You're amnesic?" Myra asked.

"Yes," He replied nodding, "I can only tell you what I heard from the rebels. Which I am not one of. A rebel named Ralof told me that I was walking towards a place called Blackwater when I walked up on an ambush and took a club to the head because I was trying to escape from an ambush. The only reason I know I wasn't one of them, was because Ralof said that he had never seen me before and I didn't wear the Stormcloak uniform. I met Ulfric too, the leader of the rebellion. He didn't elaborate on anything I had done, nor had he even acknowledged my existence. I escaped execution because of that Dragon. The Imperials were too caught up in ending the rebellion to care about me and some horse thief. We were both set to be executed because of that."

Well, that's not something I was expecting. I realized that if things got hairy, I'd only have my Wolf Familiar spell to defend myself with. My Ebony Dagger wasn't going to do anything. Myra put her hand on the handle of her blade again. "That is…." She said, "Either brave or stupid for you to come forward with that kind of information." Stupid. Extremely stupid. I would have made something up.

He shrugged. "Things happen," he spoke optimistically, "I don't know why, but I escaped with my life with an Imperial who we both helped each other escape Helgen. He knew I didn't belong on that cart and was innocent but couldn't do anything without being insubordinate. As far as he is concerned, I earned my pardon."

I didn't know if I believed him or not, but there was no need to be rude to voice that judgement. So I simply decided to humor him. "So then what are you going to do now?" I asked, "Try and figure out who you are?"

"Yeah," The Amnesiac replied, "But first, I promised the Blacksmith that I'd warn the Jarl about the Dragon. The last place I saw it flying was over the Nordic Ruin overlooking Riverwood and going into the clouds."

"I see," I stated, "What will you do after that?"

"I dunno," He replied casually, "Find some work I guess."

"That's why we're traveling to Whiterun," Myra spoke, "I'm looking for work and trying to support my children. A good life is what they need after our lives in Hammerfell went to oblivion."

"What happened?" the Amnesiac asked.

"Our daddy died." Kira said innocently. I silently prayed to the gods.

"And our brother." Rizo mumbled. This family has been through oblivion.

"Sorry." He said sincerely.

"It's fine," Myra said sighing, "My kids are…..still dealing with it. What about you Mathieu? Why are you travelling to Whiterun?"

She looked at me first, so I answered. "I'm actually stopping in Whiterun temporarily so I can get a carriage to Windhelm," I spoke, "After that, I'm taking one to Winterhold. I want to take up studies at the College of Winterhold."

"Do you know any spells?" The Amnesiac asked sounding interested in the subject.

A sour taste developed in my mouth as I voiced my life's aggravation so far. "Nothing other than conjure Wolf Familiar," I replied, "Back in High Rock, I wasn't allowed to use magic because the Thalmor declared martial law to stamp out Talos worshippers. They declared that magic wasn't allowed to be used while their occupation was there. They never left. So, I did. Plus, my family wasn't the most tolerant towards me. They didn't like me much for some reason or another. So, I left. Now I can go and live my dreams and study magic like I always wanted."

"That's what everyone should be able to do," He replied nodding, "Follow your dreams." He seemed sincere, almost like he was staring off into the void blissfully.

The rest of the walk down the path was uneventful save the occasional wildlife. The path winded down curving down the slope for easier traversing. There were several deer and rabbits crossing the road, even a wolf chasing a fox. But after four hours, we finally came out of the forested area of the valley and were walking into the tundra. Coming down the hilly road, we could see part of the tundra. There was a bridge over the river near one of the many waterfalls that flowed down from Riverwood. On either side was a wooden watchtower and a few guards. Across the river was a stone hamlet that looked to be built into the mountainside. There were a few guards and an almost unnoticeable road sign pointed in its direction reading, "Aeldsten." We moved passed it, knowing that we were meant to visit Whiterun. I paid extra attention to the vegetation, trying to eye up some potential alchemy ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn't know Skyrim's Flora all too well. All around a large hill were farmland and grazing wildlife. On the large hill was nothing but a fortress wall that had been tested in battles before, all the way around it, with a city in between. Atop the tallest point of the large hill was a large castle-like Nordic Mansion. The city was huge. It was an amazing sight to behold.

"Would ya look at that…" I said breathlessly.

"Whoaaa," Silas said.

"Cool!" Rizo said.

"It's pretty Mamma!" Kira said, "Are we going there?"

"Yes little one," Myra replied, "We're going there."

"First major crossroads we come up on," The amnesiac said, "We take a left in the Hvidfal district. That's what Alvor said."

"Who's Alvor?" Silas asked.

"He's the blacksmith I mentioned earlier," He replied as we continued to walk, "the one who asked me to get the Jarl to assist Riverwood."

"Oh." He said in an innocent sort of way. When we got to the crossroads, there were Hold guards conversing at a campfire outside a town with a windmill. There were stone pillars that had seen wear and tear. In the directions of North and East, were bridges. Both passed over a river, though the Eastern bridge passed over the rapids that flowed from Riverwood. Each side was fortified with wooden spike walls and a wooden watch tower. There were Whiterun banners on each pillar. There were homes and shops on all sides, a Meadery being the biggest complex known as Honningbrew Meadery. A fishery was located on the other side of the North Bridge. There was a bee farm, mill, and a tradepost. There were several Whiterun guards milling about. Each of them wore chainmail, with steel breastplates and greaves. The pauldrons were either covered in chainmail or scaled heavy leather. Under the armor was tan clothing. Their helmets were classic and ranging from enclosed conical steel armored helmets to the round with open face plates. They all wore tan cloaks with Whiterun's sigil on it. Some of the guards had shields with a stallion on it. Their weaponry was made of steel, having Warhammers, Greatswords, swords, and bows. Obviously, this was a major checkpoint for entering the hold from the East and South.

We followed the road west, that stretched through the farmlands and Tundra. There was a small stream that followed the road on the Whiterun side. There were buildings spotting this side of the road as well. Further up the road, they passed more farmland. Everything was tranquil, until something caught their attention. There were loud bellows and stomps. In the farmland, was a very large man that was at least fifteen feet tall. He barely had clothing on, but he used a tree trunk as a club.

For a moment I thought it was the same Giant from the day before. "No way," I said out loud, "That can't be the giant. It's too big." The Amnesiac looked at me blinking before I remembered him saying that he saw an Orc with a giant the day before.

There were three warriors fighting the giant, dodging its massive strikes with the club. That was until it managed to pick up and throw one of them, kick the other. That last one standing was a woman with a bow, who was firing arrows at it.

The Giant advanced on her. The Amnesiac pulled out his bow and nocked an arrow. "What are you doing?" Myra questioned alarmed.

"Hide." He responded simply, "That Giant is decimating those three. I'm surprised the other two aren't dead." He released the arrow. It hit the giant in the arm. The giant growled yanking the arrow out before looking at its owner.

In response, the oversized Nord ran at the overgrown man opting to switch for his sword. What in Nirn was the man thinking?

"Julianos be with me." I swore. I don't know if the Amnesiac thought about it, but he did kind of put the rest of us in danger. Maybe that's why he charged; to close the distance between him and the giant and to keep the rest of us out of harm's way. But still, he was mad to take on a giant like that. Might as well help him; as best as I could. I cast a spell, summoning a near spectral wolf that quickly ran along side the amnesiac. My wolf familiar knew what I wanted already. It was the only spell I knew. Hopefully it would be of use.

"This is crazy." Myra said, "Children. Hide behind those boulders right there. Stay out of sight."

"But mama!" Kira said.

"I'll be okay little ones," Myra hollered, "Now GO!"

With, what felt like inhuman speed, she easily caught up with the Amnesiac brandishing both of her curved swords. In sync, the charging warriors and conjuration split up. My familiar latched onto the giant's leg, biting into it. The Giant panicked trying to shake the summon off. Myra went off to the right, easily avoided its club. The Amnesiac went to straight up to the giant. The club came down at him. Dodge, dodge, dodge! I pleaded. Instead, the Amnesiac raised his shield. No! The impact was so harsh, but the shield withstood it. The ring of the club hitting the shield echoed off the field. What in oblivion? He should have been crushed. But he wasn't. I didn't know how. The giant recoiled in confusion. The Nord woman who was a part of the original fighters nocked an arrow and released it, the arrow finding its way into the Giant's neck. It then fell over due to Myra cutting right through the giant's leg. The thud was loud and heavy, the Amnesiac moving out the way just in time. Oh, now you dodge. It fell to the ground barely breathing. The amnesiac stared at it for a brief moment before ending its suffering with a stab to the head.

The two warriors that had been knocked aside came up to us, along with the last warrior. They, like everyone stared at the Amnesiac for what had just happened. He took on a giant's brute strength! I can't claim to have fought a giant, but even I could see the ridiculous strength the massive men possessed. And this man just shrugged it off like he was tussling with a man his stature. "How did you…?" Myra asked seeming as amazed as the rest of us.

"What?" The amnesiac asked confused. Was he really that dense?

"You just took a full blow from a Giant's Club." The female warrior who was knocked away by the giant spoke, "And look perfectly fine." She was noticeably smaller than the other two. She was definitely softer than the other two, not built for combat, yet. She was an Imperial around Myra's size, though with less muscle. She had soft features on her face with dark brown straight hair, and grey eyes. Her armor was a combination of fur and scaled leather. She had red warpaint under her eyes going down her cheekbones vertically.

The amnesiac was the only one that matched the two Nord Warriors in height, though they were slightly shorter, with the exception of the female Nord. The male warrior had more muscle than the amnesiac did. He had long slightly curled jet-black hair and green eyes, with a full clean-cut beard. His armor was made from some sort of steel padded by black fur. I realized that I had been walking towards them the entire time as I gaged the three warriors with Silas, Rizo, and Kira trailing behind me. They were just as cautious, like pups hiding behind adults peering out from behind with wide eyed curiosity.

"You're strong," The large Nord warrior said to the Amnesiac, "You should come to Jorrvaskr and become a Companion."

"You three fought bravely," The larger female warrior said to us, "It'd be an honor to fight by your sides as Companions." She was a large woman, though not unhealthily. She was as tall as the Amnesiac was, having the muscle of a female-warrior. If she wasn't a Nord woman with muscle, one could mistake her stature similar to a High Elf. She was beautiful under her warpaint however, sporting long brown hair, and green eyes. A man would quickly try to claim her or court her. The three of them were part of The Companions huh? That actually fits. I heard of them before. They were a mercenary group who valued honor.

"Companions?" The Amnesiac asked. I kept forgetting he was basically a mature child in an overgrown man's body.

"Local Mercenary group," I commented, "They've got more honor in their craft than most."

"We are a brotherhood of warriors," The woman continued off my words, "Where shield-brothers and sisters have each other's backs. We fight and carry out all our contracts with honor….so long as the coin is right."

"I see," The Amnesiac replied, "Can anyone join?" I could see him apart of their ranks. He did have the frame of a warrior and he took on a giant's strength like it was nothing.

"It's not for us to decide," The woman said, "Kodlak Whitemane has that Honor. He is the Harbinger of the Companions, the strongest and wisest of us. If you wish to join, go to Jorrvaskr, the hall of the Companions over in Whiterun. I'm Aela by the way, Aela the Huntress. That there is Farkas and Ria. Ria's our newest member."

"Nice to meet you," Ria said meekly.

"Hello," Farkas greeted us as he cut off the giant's large toes while Ria tied rope to the creature's legs. I wondered why he was doing that. A tradition? Some kind of rite of passage? A trophy? Maybe the toe held alchemic properties or something. I'd have to ask him.

"And who might you all be?" Aela asked, "and sorry to pry, but you're an interesting lot. I'm just curious as to what you all are doing together."

I opened my mouth first, not knowing what was coming over me. I usually wasn't this vocal or sociable. I'm blaming the Amnesiac. He seems to have this way of inspiring others to become better. I didn't know if I liked it or not. "We're all together by happenstance," I replied, "I guess at Whiterun we're splitting up. But I am Mathieu. I am traveling to the College of Winterhold to study there. I want to learn everything I can about the Arcane Arts."

"My name is Myra," The Redguard chimed in, "I am looking for work at Whiterun. These are my children Rizo, Kira, and Silas."

"I'm going to be strong so I can take on Giants all by myself!" Rizo said, "Can I become a companion!?" I loved the enthusiasm the child exuded. So dewy eyed and carefree.

"Me too!?" Kira said piping up, "I want to learn to fight!"

"We are looking for new members," Farkas said dusting his hands off, "Let's see….." He looked at the kids, "A little training and they'll be strong enough to come with us."

"They're much too young Farkas," Aela said to him in a tone of superiority, "Though if their mother joins, they could be honorary members. But that is up to Kodlak Whitemane."

"I'd have to think about it," Myra said looking unsure, "It's been so long since I've used a blade." I felt she'd be perfect for the Companions as well. She handles herself well.

"But momma!" Kira said, "You're the Armed Fury!" What!? I had heard of that title before. It was a legend of Hammerfell. Someone who could take down entire mercenary groups.

"Kira shush," Myra said embarrassedly.

"Armed Fury you say?" Aela spoke, "I've heard of the Armed Fury. A nomad of the Redguard who was said to be so skilled with a sword, that none who locked blades with her, lived to tell the tale."

"Exaggerated," Myra said offhandedly.

"How so?"

"One time I met a man who could go toe to toe with me," She replied, "He was the father of my children."

"He died," Silas said glumly. And there goes the mood.

"Our condolences," Ria commented.

"It was a while ago," Myra assured them, "It's been difficult. That's why we left the sands of Hammerfell to come to Skyrim. I want to raise them to be what they wish. To give them a better life than what we had." I felt like she had explained this far too often.

"I see," Aela said, "I'm sure you will all find it here. If you wish to join us, speak with Kodlak at Jorrvaskr in Whiterun." She turned to the Amnesiac, who stayed quiet. "And what of you?"

He was as modest as ever. "I'm afraid they have more to tell than I," He replied sheepishly, "I do not know my name at the moment. I'm an amnesiac."

"Amnesiac?" Farkas commented.

"It means he's lost his memory Ice Brains," Aela spoke. Aela was starting to give me the feeling of being a self-righteous High Elf. Maybe it was me. Ria laughed at her jest.

"I know what it means!" Farkas grunted folding his arms, "you were saying?"

"I wound up in Helgen," The amnesiac continued, "and escaped."

"Escaped what?"

"The Dragon."

"A Dragon?" Aela said in disbelief, "I haven't heard of a Dragon. They're extinct." I wish that was true. So news hadn't gotten to everyone yet.

"Well, this one wasn't," Myra spoke up, "It's very much alive. Scales and spikes black as night. Massive wings. Red glowing eyes. We barely made it out before it started attacking Helgen. It destroyed everything."

"That must be why the guards are all on edge," Ria said, "The Jarl sent out twice as much on patrol as he usually does. They were talking about locking the city down when we left, remember? Only a select few could leave. But for something like a Dragon? How would one even fight one?"

"That's why I am going to the Jarl," The Amnesiac replied, "Riverwood has no detachment of guards. It's in the most immediate danger and closest settlement to Helgen. The town blacksmith asked me to go to him."

"I see," Aela spoke as she grabbed one of the ropes and tugging it, "They're secure enough. Severio said that they'll deal with the rest once we fell the giant as long as we tied ropes to its limbs for his horses to drag away. Let us leave. The others in Jorrvaskr will want to hear about Helgen and that Dragon." With that we left the fields of the farm.

Our conversation seemed to get to the Amnesiac. He seemed deep in thought, observing his surroundings.

Farkas and I were in the rear of the group with the Amnesiac and Aela being at the head of the group. As we walked down the road, farmland became more compact and with more buildings. With more buildings, came more population. There were market stalls everywhere along the road in front of farmland and houses. When the fork in the road came up, it was of two paths. One led west showing more farmland and a few homes. The other led to the gates of the city. There was one Inn perched on a hill wedged between the right of the road at the fork from us.

"Hey Farkas," I asked the Nord, "was it?"

"Yeah?" He asked.

"I noticed you cut off those giant toes," I asked him, "What did you do that for? Trophies or something?"

"No," Farkas said, "They sell for a decent price. They're used in Alchemy. I don't know anything about it, but I'm giving them to Arcadia in Whiterun. She's a nice lady who runs her own Alchemy store. She healed me up a while back and now I'm returning the favor. I'm surprised you didn't know about this kind of thing. Alchemy is usually up a Mage's alley." We weaved through the common folk, some of them scurrying out the way to let us through, though probably because Aela's presence and willing to knock into anyone.

"Admittingly," I replied, "I know very little about anything involving magic. That's why I want to learn."

"I see." Farkas spoke. So that meant that there were two places I wanted to visit. The Court Wizard and the Alchemist shop. I wasn't sure what I'd find in either place, but I was hoping for the best. The crowd got denser, and I found myself closer to the front.

"Stay close children," I heard Myra say as we made our way through the sea of people.

"Kind of crowded, isn't it?" I commented. I hated crowds. It gave me anxiety of sorts.

"This is a normal day in Whiterun," Ria spoke up, "Inside the city walls is almost as bad. Though it's more tamed. There's a reason the city is known as the Trading Hub of Skyrim."

I couldn't help but notice that Nords may have made up most of the population, but there were several races in the crowd. Even Nords had different cultures. There were some Nords dressed as Barbarians with furs covering their nether-regions, and having rucksacks made of leathers. They carried Axes of different sizes. These Nords stood a few inches taller than other of their kin. There was a party of seven of them. They were much different than other Nords I had encountered thus far. They were less armored and more barbaric. There were various Nords who were part of old families or clans, each with their own unique armors. My mind did utter one thing. Do not piss off the Nords here. Especially the barbarians.

Other races in Whiterun were here as well, but none were as numerous as Nords. There were Bretons like I, Imperials, and Redguards busily weaving in and out of the crowd looking at the wares of the merchants. The closer we got to the outer gate, the easier it was to see the defenses. The wear and tear of Whiterun's walls was visible, possibly from previous sieges. The city looked to be in the process of rebuilding its defenses. The various masons were proof of that as they were rebuilding one of the outer gate towers and battlements along the entrance. Above the outer gate there was the beginnings of a wooden structure being built, likely a hall with arrowslits and portholes. Similar defense structures were found back home. There were various Whiterun guards posted at the either side of the entrance, with some equipped with bows atop the battlements that were having the wooden defenses built upon them peering down into the crowd. Whiterun banners and flags were everywhere. As we passed through the outer gates, there were more market stalls on the right side of the road, with a guard house. Trade capitol indeed. On the left was stables for city officials. There were horses of the finest steeds there, being Palomino and Buckskin horses. The tack in the various stalls were saddles with horse armor.

As we walked the road that winded up the slope and between the city's fortifications, I could see that the walls were still being built upon. Wooden walkways lined the walls where there hadn't been battlements for friendly guards. There was the occasional sentry tower but most of the battlements had been wooden spikes. That was until the walls that separated the road to Whiterun divided the city's buildings began. It seemed that it was more fortified than the western road wall. My guess was that it was too steep and too high for any attackers. Around halfway up the road before the bend, was a stream that flowed out a sewer grate, with a single bridge. By that point, market stalls became tents or storage areas. There was an occasional building, but it was more likely to house guards or the occasional townsfolk. As the road looped around, it was divided by more battlements and defenses. There was a tower that was in the bend that was prepared specifically for dropping boulders or burning oil. Like the rest of the road, it was in the prime location where archers could rain down arrows during a siege. In the bend in the elevating road was a few portcullises. One had to be reached by stairs that ran along a building, while the other was nestled behind a sentry post. Both were closed, with a few guards standing in front of them. I could see guards atop the wall walking into the area behind the portcullis, however. My guess was that there was another way into the section of the city from inside. The only way into the city unless the use of a rope ladder from above, was now a drawbridge and iron portcullis ahead. The drawbridge was flanked by two towers and battlements with arrowslits. It seemed that the crowd had dwindled down to merely a few people at this point.

This was the front doors of the city, protected by massive wooden doors and another portcullis. Once again, two towers flanked each side, protected by arrowslits. I made sure to look around this area. It was full of more storage, carts, and equipment for the city guard. From the outside, the walls were deceptive. From the fork in the road outside of the Whiterun walls where all the venders were located, it looked like the walls were taller than they appeared. From up here, you could tell that the walls were merely built to enforce a much steeper climb, forcing one to take the road. The battlements were just built from this height level. You could see everything down below from up here. It seemed that the area here was the central hub to access the many different battlements surrounding the fortified road such as the front gates, the central battlements, and the upper walkways of the defenses.

"Halt," One of the guards spoke, "The City is closed due to talk with dragons about. Official or guild business only. Aela, you and your shield siblings are permitted to pass."

"Thank you," Aela spoke, "I would let them pass as well, guardsman. They have business with the Jarl."

"We do," The Amnesiac spoke up for us, "We were all at Helgen when that Dragon attacked. I am here to request aid for Riverwood."

"You all were there?" The guard said in surprise, "So the rumors are true? There really is a dragon out there?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Very well," The guard replied, "You may pass." He walked over to the gatehouse where there was a guard sitting down on the other side of the barred port. There wasn't anything else in the room save the chair, table, and two winches. One was for the portcullis and the other was for something else. He started to wind it up, the sound of something on the other side of the thick wooden gates scraping. Two guards opened the gates on the other side, revealing a magnificent city.

The first thing that was noticeable was the wide street with buildings on either side. We were in the shadow of the city gatehouse. Iron gates halted anyone from walking anywhere but forward across a small stone bridge that crossed over the city drainage. Immediately on the right of the street was the Blacksmith's shop known as Warmaiden's, complete with benches, whetstones, forge, and smelter. Moss hung from the overhang of the smithy building. Across the street was the guard barracks. Atop of it was a sheltered storage area marked with an East Empire Trading Company sign.

In front of Warmaiden's were two people. One was a Nord wearing a sort of armor that was reminiscent of Imperial Legion armor. It had the same Fauld design but otherwise the cuirass was silver and shiny. He had the same greaves, boots, and gauntlets as some of the lighter equipped legion members. He was bulky, though not like a true legionnaire. He had unkempt red hair with a similar styled beard. "We'll pay whatever it takes Adrienne," He said, "But we must have more swords for the Legion. The Stormcloaks ambushed a supply caravan of theirs in retaliation to capturing that bastard, Ulfric Stormcloak." He said the rebel leaders name with so much venom it was practically dripping off the man's tongue.

The Imperial woman wore red clothing long sleeved clothing with a black leather apron. She was a thin, pretty woman having her long brown hair tied back, darker skin and smut all over her and her clothes. "I just can't fill an order that size that quickly on my own," She said sighing, "Look Idolof, you're asking me to forge new Imperial weapons and forego my other clients in a timeframe of the next two weeks. Do you have any idea how long it takes to forge a new sword of Imperial quality? It takes an entire day for only one to be ready if I mold and temper it. Not to mention the different materials. Each sword will require me to have two steel ingots, an iron ingot, leather, and wood. Not to mention getting the molds exactly correct. But you two hundred swords. You realize you're asking for a lot, right?"

"Can it be done?" Idolof asked, "We can take care of shipping and handling for you. We have a deal with the East Empire Company."

"Not in that timeframe," Adrienne said, "I appreciate your confidence in my abilities and willingness to compensate for my craft, but have you thought about other smiths? Why don't you swallow that pride of yours and ask Eorlund Grey-mane to help you?"

To the left was a road that led up a set of stairs, a raised portcullis at the top. It seemed a wall separated this part of the city from another. There were several buildings on the right side of the said street, leading up to the portcullis, the first being on the corner adjacent to Warmaiden's was a tavern known as, "The Drunken Huntsman." This tavern was on an elevated part of the city, that ran above the main road, like the other buildings on that side of the main street. The entirety buildings of the left side of main street were built upon a terrace. The tavern was built like the rest of the city's buildings, only it had distinct features that made it look foreign. Most of that was in the form of plants, Moss and vines grew all over the building. The only other noticeable feature of the building was the balcony on it. It also had a balcony on its second floor as well as a patio built to the terrace edge for outside dining or gatherings.

"Ha!" The annoyed Nord said folding his arms, "I'd sooner bend my knee to Ulfric Stormcloak!" He sighed, "No. Eorlund Gray-Mane would never make steel for the legion. Even if it could help their clan out of poverty."

"Poverty is strong word for one of the great clans of Whiterun Idolof," Adrienne said sighing, "Fine. I'll do it. We can write up a business contract after I do my figures of cost. Getting the materials, preparing molds, racks, and storage, quality, and labor…this is going to be expensive for you Battle-Born."

"Avenicci," He replied almost as if to purposely use her last name, "Coin isn't a problem. Can you do it?"

"Yes." Adrienne said, "The timeframe you want the swords prepared for is too short. Don't expect a miracle."

"Very well," Idolof replied as we got out of earshot. There was an empty home on a lot surrounded by road. There was a wooden sign on the door that said, for sale. The house was small, quaint, and had a balcony. There was a dilapidated fence around the left side of the house with unkempt brush inside. Other than that, the house was perfectly fine. There were many more homes down the street between the home for sale and Warmaiden's. There were probably six more homes on either side of the road we walked before we came up on the town inner market. The Inner market was a circle of different stores and stands with a very stylish Inn as the most interesting building. The Bannered Mare, as it was aptly called, had not one, but two outdoor patios, and a balcony. It was perched up on a terrace, various market stalls dotted in front of it. There were a few shops, some being on different streets, but the two most noticeable were Arcadia's Cauldron and Belethor's General Good Store. The group weaved in and out of the crowd.

"Before we continue," Myra said halting the group at a flight of stairs, "I am going to rent a room in the Inn."

"There won't be any need for that," Farkas said, "If you're joining us."

"What of my children?" Myra said, "They're young and I will not burden your guild's halls with three unruly children."

"You think your children would be the first to wander the halls?" Aela questioned, "No. Farkas and his twin brother were once children who were taken in by the Companions. Jergen fostered them and was a Shield-Brother. Before you make any decisions, come with us and speak with Kodlak. That is, if you wish to become a Companion?"

"I won't lie," Myra said, "Working with the Companions sounds enticing. I'll give it a shot."

"Does that mean we can learn how to fight too mother?" Rizo asked.

"Yes son," Myra said, "you will learn how to fight."

"YES!" He yelled getting the attention of several people in the Market. They soon went back to their mingling and shopping. I huffed slightly, amused with his eagerness.

"He'll fit in just fine," Ria said laughing.

We ascended the stairs, going through a portcullis, like the one near the Drunken Huntsman. There were two market stalls on either side of the road at the top of the stairs before a roundabout road and stream that surrounded a large dead tree. There was a circular Arbor that surrounded the tree that was built on the road. Homes surrounded the arbor's manmade stream. Some were grander than others. There may have been two or three homes that weren't extravagant manors. The manors of Whiterun were all west of the large dead tree. There was a large statue of a warrior holding a sword as if it was about to stab it in the ground. A serpent was under it. Below the statue was a man who was preaching of the God Talos. The group walked around the tree, with the Companions and the Redguard family halting at the first footbridge between the statue of Talos and a nearby home. There was a flight of stairs ascending several terraces full of homes. At the top was, what looked like a capsized ship repurposed into a mead hall. Above that, Northeast of the mead hall was a large statue of a bird of prey with glowing eyes and smoke coming from its beak. There was a glow that was under its body, which I guessed was embers or fire. It was a wonderous sight, though nothing as grand as the Adamantium tower.

"Jorrvaskr is atop these stairs," Aela said as Farkas and Ria continued up them, "Myra. If you wish to join us, follow us." She looked at me and Matthieu. "Noble warriors and mage." She beat her fist over her heart. "It has been an honor fighting alongside you. Should you find yourselves in Whiterun, tales of your adventures would be welcome in the home of The Companions."

"It's been an honor," the Amnesiac spoke nodding.

"Likewise," I agreed, "Until we meet again."

"Aye." Aela replied.

The Amnesiac looked at Myra. "It's been a pleasure getting to know you four," He said to her, "Take great care Myra. I hope we meet again."

"And you as well," Myra replied nodding, "You too Matthieu."

"Same to you," I replied, "I wish you the best." There was a twang of regret. I was conflicted. Why did I feel that I hoped these goodbyes weren't permanent?

"When we see you again," Rizo said to the Amnesiac, "I want to be as strong as you are! I want to be able to take a hit from a giants club too!" Everyone laughed at that.

"Listen to your mother," He replied with a grin, "And protect her. If we meet again, tell me all about your adventures and what you've learned. Okay?"


Silas looked at me, him finally opening up. "I hope you learn a lot of magic!" He said to the Breton, "I want to learn some day too!" I was surprised. Not many children decide they want to learn magic when their family was primarily warriors. But his mother would probably never let him learn magic until he could be out on his own. And even then, she'd probably drill him into being a warrior only. Maybe I was wrong.

"Hmm," I replied in consideration, "When you're old enough to start practicing, I'm sure the college will love to have you there. But you got to stay with your mother and learn how to defend yourself first. Okay?"

"….okay." the young boy said like I crushed his hopes and dreams.

"Hey." I said trying to salvage the boy's mood and crouching down to one knee and putting my hand on the boy's shoulder in reassurance, "Don't grow up too fast Silas. You've got a lot to learn. Magic isn't going anywhere. It's everywhere and it grows. I don't know much about it myself. But I want to learn. These things take time." I didn't know if that was too generic of a response from an adult to a child, but it was the best I had at the moment.

"Good luck at the college," Silas said.

"Good luck learning how to fight," I replied, "Maybe you can be a battlemage someday."

Silas gasped in excitement and realization, as if the idea hadn't crossed his mind.

"And what about you?" The amnesiac asked Kira who had so far been left out, "What do you want to be when you're older?"

Her eyes brightened up. "I want to learn how to be an archer and fighter," She replied smiling.

"Well," The Amnesiac said, "It looks like you're in the right place. I'm sure The Companions have just what you're looking for. Next time we meet, I want to see if you can put an arrow between a dummy's eyes."

"Dummies don't have eyes, do they?" Kira asked curiously.

"I will draw them on one." He quipped. She laughed. He was better with kids than I was.

He stood up looking at Myra. "Farewell," She spoke to him and I before turning to her children, "Come children. Let's see what awaits us." The four ascended the stairs with Aela. I didn't know why, but I had sort of grown slightly attached to the four Redguards. There was something about them that I liked. The same with the Amnesiac. It was like there was something telling me that there was something special about them, particularly Myra and the Amnesiac. I couldn't put my finger on it though. Rationally, it was dumb. I hadn't known them long enough to warrant such emotions.

"Well," He said sighing before looking at me, "I know what I must do." We looked up the stairs that led up to a large Manor, that could be mistaken as a wooden castle. "But what about you? I figured you would have broken off from us long before we entered the city and took a carriage to Winterhold."

"You'd be correct," I replied, "But I wish to see if the court wizard has any tomes of magic first. But I doubt I can even get an audience with him, seeing as how the city is on lockdown at the moment."

A passing guard happened to hear them. "Sorry," He said, "Not trying to interrupt or anything. But I overheard you. The Court wizard is busy looking into matters involving the attack on Helgen for the Jarl. I wouldn't waste my time trying to seek an audience with him. Unless you wish to wait for a long time. Our court wizard is very dedicated to this kind of research. He'll be in a foul mood if anything disrupts it."

I was disappointed but not surprised. "Well, there's my answer," I spoke shrugging it off, "Thank you sir. Saved some time for me." The guard nodded and continued walking. I let out an annoyed sigh. "I wish you the best of luck…." I paused awkwardly. "…it is still strange that we don't have a name for you."

"I apologize." He said sheepishly.

"It's whatever," I dismissed it, "Anyways. I wish you the best of luck with the Jarl. Hopefully, we'll meet again. If you're ever in Winterhold, come visit me at the college."

"And how will you know it's me who wishes to visit a friend?" He asked humoring him. Friend. Good question. I came up with something on the fly.

"Just tell them you're the amnesiac who took on a giant," I replied, "if you have to ask around. Tell them that you're a friend of Matthieu Tarte." Friend. Was he really a friend?

"Aye," He replied with a laugh, "I'm sure they'll believe that…."

"Oh, most definitely," I said with the same amount of humor.

We clasped each other's hands in a handshake. "Take care of yourself Matthieu," he said.

"You as well," I replied, "Don't take on any giants without me."

"I'll see what I can do." We laughed, and parted ways. There was that twang again. I returned towards the Market leaving the Amnesiac under that large tree. I hoped he'd be okay, the same with Myra. I mentally prepared a list of things I'd need for the cold weather up at Winterhold. Warmer clothes for example. Skyrim's climate was crisp cold already and my robes staved off most of the daytime cold. But nighttime, it was almost too much. I would need to replenish my rations. I had a loaf of bread, but that was it. I made my way down to the market to look for foods. I thought I saw a stand for meats and another for vegetables as we passed through earlier.

I walked towards the meat stand, which was headed by a wood elf with orange-red hair and beard. He had a green tunic, cotton shirt and pants and leather boots. His stand had various meats on display, it being just cold enough to keep them fresh. He had goat flanks, venison, pork, and beef. "I've got some fresh meats," He said calling out to the crowds as I walked up to him, "straight from the fields of Whiterun."

"Hmm," I said, "Do you have anything for traveling? I'm departing to Winterhold in the morning."

"I have dried venison jerky," He replied, "Fresh batch finished just yesterday. That suit your fancy?"

"I know you aren't a carriage rider," I said, "But do you know how long it takes to get to Winterhold from here?"

He paused for a moment. "I haven't taken a trip up there in a long time," He said, "On a carriage? Three to five days, depending on weather conditions." That was good. It was a much shorter trip than I was expecting. It had taken a little over two months to travel from Evermore to, well, what was almost Helgen. What was a few more days?

"I'll take enough for five days then," I replied.

"That'll be forty septims," the Wood elf said as he started to grab two pieces of cloth that was wrapped up.

"Deal," I said fishing out the coin.

"Anything else you need?"

"Not in meats no," I replied putting the wrapped jerky in my backpack, "Thank you though."

"Come back any time!" He said, and if you're looking for hunting gear or a drink, check out the Drunken Huntsman. My brother Elrindir and I own it. Tell him Anoriath sent you."

"I might give it a look," I said nodding. I knew darn well I wasn't going to. I wasn't a hunter. I walked over to the Fruits and Vegetable stand across from him. A very attractive Imperial woman with auburn hair and amber eyes. She was fair skin and was one of those women who I knew had to be married. She wore white tunic with a red overall dress donned with various pouches.

"Good evening," I said to her before looking at all the produce on her stand. She had cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, gourds, apples, lettuce, celery, carrots, peanuts, parsley, onions, chives, and yams.

"Good evening," She replied, slowly stepping back a little from her stand as if trying to put some distance between us. Something was troubling her. Was it me? Was I that repulsive? I didn't think I was.

"What do you recommend?" I asked, "I plan to travel to Winterhold tomorrow. It's supposed to be a five-day journey by carriage."

"Oh," She said blinking, looking slightly flushed, "Well…. for travel, I'd suggest the apples, celery, carrots, or tomatoes. Anything else is best served over a table."

"Okay," I said, "I'll take some a little of everything." I picked out enough rations for a five-day journey.

"Thirty-six septims," she said packaging it all up.

"Thank you," I said nodding and exchanging the food for coin, "I hope whatever is troubling you, it gets better."

"Thank…you." She replied looking surprised and embarrassed. I left her stand and journeyed into Arcadia's Cauldron. A small doorbell rang as I entered. There were shelves and shelves of potions on the right side of the store in front of the counter where trades were made. Ingredients were displayed in preserving jars and baskets on the counter. In the center was a square firepit, that warmed the entire area; a cauldron hanging high above by metal chains attached to a rafter located between two indoor balconies. The Cauldron was most likely purely for decoration if I had to guess. There wasn't much to see up top from down on the shop floor, but I was willing to bet that was the private residential part of the store. A table with different instruments for alchemy was located at the back of the shop. There were three doors in the shop. One was immediately to the right of the front door, another further down the wall, and the final between the Alchemy table and a cabinet that had sliding doors on it. I was impressed. I had never been in an Apothecary before. Well, one that was in business.

Out from the back office, came an Imperial woman in yellow clothes that was wrapped in a white apron. She had dark brown hair and brown eyes that was tied back. "Welcome," She said, "I'm Arcadia. What can I do for you?"

"Yes," I replied, "I'm actually looking to see if you have any warming potions?"

"Traveling north I assume?" She asked walking over to a section of her shop where there were there were light blue bottles of different sizes and shapes.

"Uh yes," I replied nodding as she grabbed a few different bottles with the light blue substance in them, "I'm going to the College of Winterhold."

"I figured you were a mage," Arcadia spoke as she walked to the counter, "What do you specialize in?"

"Nothing yet," I replied, "That's why I want to go to the College. I want to learn all that I can. I only know one spell."

"Hmm," She replied, "I'm guessing one of the Conjure familiar spells? I've noticed that one is more common with Bretons."

"Yeah, I replied sheepishly, "I know the wolf familiar variant."

"Still kind of common," She replied, "But I'm not judging. It's the college that will."

"What do you mean?"

"They're very selective on who is admitted as a student," She replied, "They want people with magical aptitude, I guess. Usually, they want applicants who show skill in at least one of the major schools of magic." My heart dropped.

"Any exceptions?" I said slightly weakly.

"I'm not sure," She said, "I'm not trying to dissuade you from going. I just don't want you to get stuck in Winterhold without being admitted." I stared for a moment. My mind going blank. I had to learn magic…. I had to! The College of Winterhold was the only place that taught it! I'd beg if I had too.

"I'll take that chance," I replied with determination, "I've travelled all the way from Evermore in High Rock. I've got to learn magic from there."

"Well okay," Arcadia replied unsure, "If you're sure, I'll sell you some of these. I'd go with one Elixir and two Solutions of Warming."

"What's the difference," I asked.

"The Elixir is more powerful than Solutions," She replied, "The solutions are 175 septims each and the Elixir is 265 septims." Those were pricy. But then again, I had never bought any potions before.

"Okay," I said counting out the coin. I was spending so much lately. I still had a lot more gold. We traded and that was it. She wrapped the potions up in cloth and I stuffed them in my rucksack. It was getting full. I was pretty sure after I bought clothing for colder weather, that'd be all the room I had.

Belethor's General goods store was cluttered with all kinds of things. He had various shelves and baskets full of materials for construction. He had different books, clothes, tableware, cooking products, toys, cloth products, barrels, and so much other stuff. His counter was just as cluttered, barely enough room for an open spot to finalize trades.

"Welcome to Belethor's General Good Store," a fellow Breton said from behind the counter, "Everything's for sale my friend! No need to visit any of the other shops."

"Okay then," I spoke, "I'm looking for clothing that'll be warm enough to venture into Winterhold."

"I've got just the thing," Belethor said walking around his counter and walking up my right where there was a fur cloak and thick winter robes. The robes were deep blue like his current robes, only for winter, but the cloak that could go over those were silver. It was surprisingly accurate in my tastes if I had a choice. I was fond of blue and silver.

"I like it," I replied, "but does it fit, is the question."

"Try it on," Belethor said. I did so and was pleased.

"How much for them?" I asked.

"100 septims for the robes," He replied, "and 60 for the cloak." I fished out the coin and gave him the money. With that, I packed my new clothing and proceeded to walk out to the front gate. There were two guards guarding the interior of the gates.

"You need to exit citizen?" One of them asked, "Are you still on official business for the Jarl?" He apparently recognized me from the arrival party.

I quickly came up with an extended truth slash lie slash story. "My companion is," I said, "The big Nord that was with us? He's in audience with the Jarl at the moment. I am not needed there. I am however going to attempt to enlist the aid of one of the local carriages for passage to Winterhold. But I will need to return inside for the night. I plan to leave in the morning."

"Winterhold?" The guard asked, "Why would you need to go there? It's a ghost town. The only thing there are mages and snow."

I nodded. "You are correct." I spoke keeping up the ruse, "There are rumors going around. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Something that happened to a certain town? One in which Jarl is trying to figure out how to proceed?" The guard nodded. "I am going to the mages to study with them and to find out if there are any texts on what hit Helgen. Any information I find out, will be reported to all the Jarls." That technically wasn't a lie. I don't know if I would actually find anything. But if I happened to, I'd follow through with my statement.

"I see," The guard said, "I will let the others of the gate in the Plains District, know. The entrances into the city through the marsh district has been temporarily closed so come back through here." With that he had the gatehouse guard crank the winch that raised the barricade and gate guards opened the doors.

"Understood," I replied nodding, "I shouldn't be too long."

I made my way down the winding and fortified road and out the front gates through the crowds. I made my way to the carriages near the Whiterun Stables. There was a Carriage leaving full of passengers that was leaving as I arrived at the Whiterun Carriage office. The interior of the office was what one would expect. The front room had a counter that stretched from one side of the room, to the other with a gap for the owners to walk by. There was a single ledger there. Various shelves for rolls of parchment were on the left side of the room, and many maps of Skyrim, holds, and even Tamriel were on the right tacked on the wall with different color coated pins punched into them. A Nord walked from a door behind the counter. He was a typical blonde-haired Nord.

"Welcome," He said, "Here to book a passage or to find out prices?"


"Where do you wish to book passage to?" He asked, "and what of your belongings. Anything over two bags is an additional charge."

"Winterhold," I replied, "I wish to leave in the morning. And what I have on me right now is all I'm carrying."

"It'll be 80 septims," The man said, "Winterhold's travel fee is fifty, twenty for a short notice booking, and ten for the Jarl's Tax. Due to low baggage, there won't be an additional twenty septim charge." I counted the coin out and handed it to him. "Okay sign here." He turned the ledger around and pointed at an area under paid. I wrote in the ledger then he turned it around and scribbled dates down. "You'll leave out at seven in the morning. Fine with you?"

"Yeah," I replied.

"This trip should take no later than five days," He droned on, "If it takes more, we'll refund you half your travel fee. Your carriage driver will be Bjorlam. I'd advise you to be ready and pack rations for the trip. The Skyrim Carriage Company is not responsible for lost or damaged items. We are also not responsible for risks of the road such as bandit attacks or of such. My men will attempt to flee and will not engage with dangers if they can avoid them. Your signature is your compliance to these regulations." That was rather backwards, wasn't it? Why didn't he say that before I signed my name? Oh well.

I returned to the Market area afterwards, the night finally darkening the streets of Whiterun. There were lamplighters lighting torches, braziers, and lanterns along the city streets giving some light. The market slowed to a close, the stall owners locking their goods up, then leaving. The only places that were lively were the Taverns and Inns. I walked over to the Bannered Mare Inn where many people were enjoying their drinks on the sheltered patios out front. Inside was just as lively. There were many townsfolk and visitors gathered around the firepit. There was so much going on, that I couldn't pay attention to the crowd. I ordered some food for dinner and rented a room from a Redguard woman named Saadia.

The next morning it was rather uneventful, hardly anyone but the city guard being awake at an early hour. Bjorlam was waiting for me when I arrived at the Carriage company. "Are you Matthieu Tarte?" He had asked.

"I am," I replied.

"Climb on in the back," He said, "Might as well get comfortable. Winterhold is a long way away." I did so and the carriage driver started us off…...