Pre-story A/N: First off, the URL should be its own disclaimer. If I owned Elder Scrolls, the fuck would I be doing posting here? Credit goes to Nine Inch Nails for the song The Line Begins to Blur. Great song, not that this story shares any themes from it. Oh, and this will most certainly earn its M rating. So in case you accidentally stumbled in here thinking it was T or something...keep reading, actually. It's never too early to see this kinda shit.
I supposed it was the jostling of the prisoner cart that woke me up from my rather unpleasant slumber as I came to. The back of my head was splitting from where a soldier's pommel had cracked it and knocked me unconscious, but the pain wasn't at the forefront of my mind. That place was taken up by the bindings around my wrists.
I didn't rightly know why I was taken prisoner. It was as likely because of bad timing as anything else. I was just trying to cross the border into Skyrim from Cyrodiil and had managed to stumble into an ambush along with a group of soldiers that were apparently rebelling against the Empire, if one of the soldier's shout of "You rebel scum!" was any indication.
"You're finally awake," the Nord across from me spoke when he noticed me. He was dressed in what looked like a chain-mail cuirass under a dark blue tunic. "You walked right into that Imperial ambush along with us and that thief over there," he motioned next to himself with his head.
"Damn you, Stormcloaks," said thief grumbled. I vaguely recognized the name from the scuffle that had gotten me captured. "Everything was just fine until you came along. The Empire was nice and lazy. If they hadn't been looking for you, I couldn't stolen that horse and been halfway to Hammerfell by now." He turned towards me. "You there, we shouldn't be here. It's these Stormcloaks the Empire wants."
"Somehow I doubt that's going to make much difference," I replied. "We're here and there isn't much we can do about it now." I looked beside myself and saw another Nord dressed in a bear pelt cloak. He was gagged and I noted that he was the only one who was.
"He's right. We're all brothers and sisters in binds now, thief," the Nord said.
The conversation between the two carried on, though my head started to grow too fuzzy to really make most of it out. I shook it in an attempt to clear it and immediately regretted the decision as it set the throbbing inside to a terribly rapid tempo. It registered in the back of my mind that I possibly had a concussion.
"...where we're going, but Sovngarde awaits," my hearing returned just in time to catch the end of the Nord's rather sombre words.
Sovngarde was something I did know something of, and his mention of it could only mean we were being taken to be executed. The thief began to ramble in a rather panicked manner, though I didn't feel the need to. It wasn't as though it would have done me any good to start losing my head before I had even reached the chopping block.
"Hey, what village are you from, horse thief?" the Nord across from me asked.
"What does it matter to you?" the man all but snapped.
"A Nord's last thoughts should be of home."
"...Rorikstead," the answer seemed to calm him slightly. "I'm from Rorikstead."
When we reached the gates of whatever town we were to be executed in, the Legion guard transporting us called out our arrival to a General Tullius, causing the thief to once again started rambling to the Divines.
"General Tullius...the damned soldier governor," the Nord retained his calm. "And he's with the Thalmor. Damned elves probably had something to do with this." The connection made sense, considering that the Aldmeri Dominion all but had the Empire under its thumb. "This is Helgen..." he suddenly became reflective. "I used to be sweet on a girl from here. Funny, when I was a boy, Imperial walls and towers used to feel so safe."
Nearby I heard a child asking his father about us and talking about wanting to watch the soldiers. I almost had to smirk and was more than a little tempted to tell the father to let his boy watch the executions and see how the world works, but I held my tongue.
"Why are we stopping?" the thief suddenly looked around hurriedly as the cart stopped moving.
"Why do you think? End of the line," the Nord answered. An angry sounding woman clad in Imperial captain's armour quickly told us to get out of the cart, as though it were really up to us. "Well, come on then. Best not keep the gods waiting."
"Wait! We're not rebels!" the thief made one last ditch effort at freedom.
"Quiet! Face your death with some courage," the Nord admonished him.
We climbed out of the cart and grouped together in front of a man with a quill and scroll. "Step forward when your names are called!" he shouted out to us. "Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm!"
The man who had previously been sitting beside me in the cart stepped up. I actually had to suppress my surprise, though it suddenly occurred to me that it had been mentioned when my haziness had set in earlier. "It has been an honour, Jarl Ulfric," the blue-clad Nord now beside me said almost reverently as Ulfric walked over to the area around the chopping block.
"Ralof of Riverwood," the soldier called out once again. Ralof, now that I knew his name, walked from beside me and over to stand with the Jarl. "Lokir of Rorikstead."
"No! I'm not a rebel! You can't do this!" the thief all but shouted before breaking off at a sprint. I shook my head in pity as an arrow quickly grew from his back.
"Anyone else feel like running?" the angry captain turned to us.
"Wait," the roll-calling soldier looked at me. "You there. Step forward." I did as he asked and walked up to stand before him. "What's your name?"
"Kailev-Tel," I answered. For a brief instant I wondered if the General behind him would recognize it.
"Are you a relative of one of the Riften dockworkers, Argonian?" the soldier asked. I simply shook my head in response. I had no family or friends of any kind in Skyrim. The trip north was just one more stop in my travels. Clearly it was a decision wrought with foresight and good fortune, considering I'd barely made it past the border before I was scheduled to be executed. "Captain, he's not on the list. What should we do?"
"Forget the list. He goes to the block," she said almost offhandedly.
"I'm sorry...I'll try and make sure your remains get sent back to Black Marsh," the soldier genuinely looked apologetic.
"You're a bitch," I looked the captain coldly in the eye as I said it. "You're a complete and utter bitch and I just wanted to make sure someone in your life told you so before you die a slow and painful death for being such a bitch. May the Daedric Princes have the utmost fun with you in Oblivion," she looked shocked at my words. Or perhaps it had been the deadpan delivery. Either way I quite obediently walked over to the chopping block to stand with Ralof and Ulfric among the snickers of the Stormcloaks around me.
General Tullius was making a great show of apparently berating Ulfric Stormcloak for murdering the High King of Skyrim and starting the war. My mouth was speaking before I truly knew what I was saying. "Yes, because executing him and making him into a martyr is clearly the best idea the Empire could possibly have. It would never make anyone else think that maybe you're as bad as he says you are," I shrugged at the last bit.
A hard blow to the back of my legs from the flat of the captain's sword put me on my knees with a grunt of pain. "You'd best watch your tongue before I cut it out, lizard," she snarled.
The only thing that kept me from continuing my sardonic tirade was what sounded like a roar in the distance. The sound of it chilled me to my core. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded hauntingly familiar. One soldier remarked on it, though the General quickly dismissed it as nothing.
At a nod from him, a priestess quickly started into our last rites. "As we commend your souls to Etherius, blessings of the Eight Divines shine-"
"For the love of Talos, shut up and lets get on with this," a Stormcloak soldier barked as he quite willingly walked up to the block.
"As you wish," the priestess nearly barked right back.
"Come on! I haven't got all morning," he grimaced at the captain before she pushed him to his knees and laid his neck down on the block. He looked the executioner in the eyes before speaking again. "My ancestors are smiling on me, Imperials. Can you honestly say the same?"
For all his gall, it did little to dull the axe that came down on his neck, severing his from his shoulders head in one clean blow. The Imperial captain quite unceremoniously pushed his body to the side with her foot. For all the outraged shouts that followed, the only thing that truly caught in my ear was a very respectful "As fearless in death as he was in life," from Ralof beside me.
"Next, that smart-mouth set of boots," the captain pointed at me with an all-too-delightful look in her eyes.
"And here I was thinking we were getting along so well," I gave her a wry smirk. "I was just thinking of asking if you'd like to grab a pint of mead sometime in the hopes that a bit of drink might help make you less of a cunt." Another roar sounded in the distance, and although this one sounded nearer it went mostly ignored.
She personally walked over and reached to grab one of the spines jutting from the back of my head. A sharp snap at her fingers with my teeth actually made her flinch back a little, which earned her yet another smirk before I walked over to the block and knelt down before it. Before I could bend and put my neck on it the captain put her foot in my back to push me down.
I looked up at the executioner, and presumably unbeknownst to anyone I was quietly preparing a flame spell in my palm. I was thankful that they had bound my wrists in front, and had long since decided that if I was going to die someone was coming with me.
Just as he raised his axe and I readied my spell, the source of the roars made itself quite apparent. A great and terrible looking dragon landed atop the tower behind my would-be murderer and shook the ground enough to throw him off balance. I couldn't shake the feeling that it was staring directly at me, nor could I do much to quell the feelings of fear that welled up within me. There was little hope yet if the dragon decided I was to be its meal.
Nonetheless I rolled over and let loose my spell, igniting the executioner and his clothing with a bright stream of flame. At the same time the dragon picked its moment to strike, letting loose a great howl that sounded almost akin to a vocal shout. It shook the ground again and storm clouds began to form above it. In the confusion I managed to push myself to my feet and followed Ralof into a nearby tower.
Ulfric was waiting there and the two had a hurried conversation I paid little mind to. It seemed unimportant to listen in when there was a very upset dragon burning down the village around us. "Come on, we need to find a way out of here," Ralof tapped me on the shoulder.
"Sounds better than waiting to get eaten," I nodded and followed him up the tower steps. I was struggling with my bindings, but before I could ask for help with them the dragon's head burst in through the wall, letting loose a burst of flame I only narrowly avoided. The Stormcloak further up the stairs wasn't so lucky.
The beast quickly flew off in search of other prey, letting us climb up to the hole and look out to see a rather badly damaged building not far down. "Quickly, jump down to that inn. We'll follow you when we can," Ralof looked at me.
"That sounds like a terrible idea," I frowned as I looked down at the half-destroyed building. I quickly changed my mind when the dragon turned in its flight back towards us and jumped down, a still-intact section of the hay roof breaking my fall before I crashed into the floorboards beneath. "Ow..." I wanted to rub the now sore spot on my tail, but with my wrists tied at my front it proved a difficult proposition.
Another quick hop landed me on the ground outside with the apologetic roll-calling soldier and a few civilians. "You're still alive, prisoner?" he looked surprised.
"I've managed, so far," I shrugged against my bindings.
He turned to an older man with the young boy from earlier. "Take care of the child. I need to find General Tullius."
"Gods guide you, Hadvar," the older man nodded back.
"Come on. We still need to sort out what to do with you," the man I now knew as Hadvar looked at me before running off.
"A dragon is burning down a village around you and you're worried about what to do with a prisoner who wasn't even supposed to be getting executed?" I asked as I followed him. "I can see why the Empire is doing so fantastically with the Aldmeri. You clearly have all of your priorities nicely straightened out."
"Shut up and stay against the wall," he barked back at me just as the dragon landed atop said wall and burned a soldier to a crisp at its base.
"Shutting up," I complied as I winced against the heat from the flames.
We took off again towards the town's keep, weaving between archers and soldiers who were quite vainly fighting the dragon. We ran into Ralof at the keep and a quick back and forth of insults went between him and Hadvar, though I paid little attention to it. It seemed irrelevant to me.
"Come on, I can cut off your bindings inside the keep," Hadvar glanced back at me.
"Finally! It's about time someone suggested such a novel idea," as silly as it was, the news that I'd finally be rid of the things greatly brightened my mood.
Once we were inside, Hadvar leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. "Looks like we're the only ones left...Was that really a dragon?" he asked aloud.
"Either that or a really, really ugly bird," I shrugged for what felt like the hundredth time that day. The comment managed to bring a small smile to the soldier's face.
"Come here, let's see if I can get those bindings off," he walked over to me and with a quick flick of a dagger the rough leather ties were off my wrists. I rubbed at the sore scales that had been rubbed a bit raw by the constant movement. "Take a look around. There should be some gear somewhere in here. I'm going to see if I can find something for these burns."
A quick look around indeed produced a light leather tunic and boots, a pair of swords and even a few septims. I quickly changed, completely forgoing any sort of modesty considering that my only companion had likely seen far worse than a mostly-naked lizard. A couple swings of the swords got me used to their balance and weight. They were simple, but effective, and I was hardly going to argue with free weapons.
Among the personal effects of one of the footlockers I found a steel dagger. It wasn't anything particularly noteworthy, but it was clearly a purchase that some soldier had made for his private gear. It was of fine make and sharpened to a razor's edge, though I noticed it was lacking any sort of blacksmith's seal to name the maker. I took the dagger and its sheath and strapped them to my belt. I had always found a spare dagger at my hip endlessly useful.
After we finished our respective bits of business, we made our way through the keep until we came upon a pair of soldiers clad in familiar blue. "Stormcloaks...maybe they can be reasoned with," Hadvar sounded hopeful.
"You'd think so, what with a dragon outside attacking all of us indiscriminately," I nodded. "And I really would rather not have to - by the Hist!" I was cut off by a warhammer slamming into the ground where I had been standing a moment before. "Really? Is no one in this country reasonable?"
I hopped back to avoid another swing while Hadvar took on the other soldier. I stepped to the side one last time, the warhammer's heavy swing proving to be the man's downfall as I neatly stepped in and slid my sword across his unguarded neck. Hadvar finished his foe in similar fashion, blocking a heavy slice from a greatsword with his shield and simply sticking his blade into the Stormcloak's exposed throat.
"Grace of the Nine, is it going to be like this with every Stormcloak we run into in this place?" I suspected my Argonian version of a frown looked quite odd to the Imperial.
"Very likely," he sighed. "Come on, we have to find a way out of here before that dragon brings this place down around our heads."
A/N: So at the core of this is a story of a Dragonborn that will hopefully be original enough to warrant reading. I guess I should probably warn ahead of time, though, that it will involve a male Argonian in explicitly sexual situations with females of various races (the jury's currently out on Khajiit; I guess I'd be willing to do it if someone asked), so if that shit squicks you out you should probably find a less grammatically well-structured story to read. (There seem to be thousands of those out there, so it shouldn't be hard.) If it's a guilty pleasure or (not so) secret fetish, read on. It isn't one of mine, personally, but I always play as an Argonian and this was an idea that kinda wormed its way into my head so I decided to run with it. The handy thing about not making money off this is no commission to live up to so I can just drop it if it isn't working out. Terrible attitude, I know, and this author's note is dragging on for fucking ever. TL;DR - read if you want, but don't bitch at me about the content cuz you found it fucked up.