There was one thing and one thing alone that Djarfskald wanted: peace. After a long day's worth of traveling and out-witting bandits she needed her rest. It had been a blessing sent from the Divines when she stumbled across the small border inn. There were few patrons, a skald playing a wordless song, and a fire burning bright. All that she needed was a room for the night and belly full of warm food.
The peace that was there, though, was short lived. The hushed conversation of two men slowly grew in volume. For the most part they were ignored. Other than the innkeeper and the skald, there were only five patrons, Djarfskald included. Small spats were known to happen in tucked away places, and those spats were also known to get physical.
A chair went tumbling backwards as one of them stood, shouting about being betrayed. Despite the sound the skald's music continued to play. Djarfskald frowned and stared at her meal. She tried to focus her senses on it and it alone, but the man's voice was breaking in.
"Why don't the two of you take your argument outside?"
Neither man replied, both now standing and shouting back and forth. Djarfskald watched them from over her shoulder. She could see the larger man's body tense as he continued his accusations of treachery. The smaller of the two, while standing his ground, was obviously shaken, blue eyes wide with fear and worry. There would be little contest between them if it came down to a brawl.
It was when the larger man began to reach for something in his cloak that Djarfskald moved. She grabbed the empty tankard that was before her and rushed the larger man from behind. With one swift motion she brought it down on the back of the man's head. He crumpled to the ground with a grunt, dagger tumbling out of his hand and into the fire light.
"You, you saved my life."
Djarfskald let the tankard fall onto the unconscious man. "You're welcome but all I wanted was for the two of you to be quiet."
The blue eyes man shook his head, a smile slowly forming. "Please, let me buy you a drink; in fact, as many as you want!"
While her kneejerk response was to deny the man's offer, a warm cup of mead sounded just as good as her soup. "I suppose a drink or two wouldn't hurt."
"Now that's a true Nord speaking! Sit and let me get the first round!"
The sound of unknown voices caused Djarfskald to sit upright in her bed, eyes wide and head throbbing. While her first response was to cringe and curse the Nine, she stopped while she stared down the blade of a sword. On the other end stood three men dressed in imperial armor, the one wielding the sword was the only one to wear a rather ornate helmet.
"What is the meaning of this?" Her voice cracked as she spoke, despite her effort to appear so sure of what she said.
"One of my fellow generals has been brutally slain," the helmeted soldier replied. "From the accounts by the other patrons, as well as this inn's owner, you were the last one to be seen with him."
Djarfskald could feel the color drain from her face. She went through the foggy memory of the previous day but could remember nothing except arriving at the inn. "You must be mistaken. I have to work up the nerve to kill my own food, what makes you think I could kill another human?"
"From the way it's been described a discussion between the two of you turned sour and you lashed out. When he fell unconscious you simply dragged his body outside, where you took your time dismembering him. Do you deny this?"
Cradling her head in her hands Djarfskald shrugged, "I can't remember what I did last night. N-none of it."
"That is enough of an admission for now," the soldier said. He sheathed his sword and motioned to the younger of his subordinates. "Bind her."
"Wait!" Djarfskald pulled away from the men, finally realizing that she was wearing nothing but her underclothes. "At least allow me to dress. I think being dragged off by Imperials is embarrassing enough, I don't need to show myself half-naked to the world."
"Stay with her. Once she is done, bring her out."
Djarfskald felt her shoulder slump. Whatever hope she had of slipping away while they weren't looking was now gone. She watched the two soldiers leave, the younger one closing the door behind them. He watched as she slipped out from beneath the rough blankets and began to pilfer through her bags. In any other situation the young man would have been chased away and possibly attacked but this was his chance to watch a woman dress without being ashamed.
It was obvious to Djarfskald that the boy was leering and she knew it was her only chance. The window above the bed would be a quick escape but he was the only thing keeping her from fleeing. Pulling out the last of her clothes, Djarfskald tossed the articles onto the bed and slowly looked at the boy. "The post out here must be lonely."
"I-I beg your pardon?" A rosy hue was blooming in the boy's cheeks despite his stoic expression.
"I bet the female soldiers aren't that inviting either." Djarfskald ran her fingers through her dark hair, smiling slightly as she noticed the slight fracture in the boy's reserve. She wouldn't have called herself attractive, just your typical looking Nord; pale skin, shoulder length dark hair, and a muscled body from working in the wilderness of Skyrim. "You don't have any time to find a nice lady in a town, do you? Not a moment to slip away and lose yourself in someone else's warmth?"
The boy opened his mouth to respond but the training that the Imperials instilled in him must have kicked in. In a flash his eyes were looking at nothing and his face suddenly emotionless.
Djarfskald frowned slightly; she wasn't one to back down so easily, especially when her life depended on it. She crossed the room and stood close to the young soldier, close enough to feel his breath on her. "I won't say a word," she whispered. "You can do with me what you want."
The soldier's eyes suddenly locked onto Djarfskald, "We'll have to be quick about it."
Djarfskald smiled as she felt the young soldier's hands fall on her waist, letting her on hands come to rest on his shoulders. She waited until the tension left the boy's body before doing anything else. Without a word she stepped back, pulling the boy's head down into her knee. He was the one to cry out in pain as he fell to the ground, blood spilling from his nose; she missed her mark.
There was no time to dress as the young soldier shouted for his superior. Djarfskald grabbed her cloak, wrapping it around herself as she threw open the window. The room was on the inn's second floor and while she hesitated at the idea from jumping down, her instincts told her to run. She leapt as far from the building as she could, landing hard on what had looked like soft earth. There was no time to nurse her wounds as she heard the soldiers and soon saw the ornate, helmeted head of the unnamed general.
Scrambling to her feet Djarfskald ran. She didn't know where she was going but it was away from that inn. The shouts from the soldiers were barely audible over her hurried breathing and the wind rushing around her. Rocks and roots bit at her feet and branches tore at her hair and cloak. There was no way she could stop. Djarfskald was not only wanted for assaulting an Imperial soldier but for murdering one of their generals.
Time and distance meant nothing. The forests looked and sounded the same as Djarfskald continued. Her body was screaming for her to stop but she could still hear the voices of the soldiers. They were on horseback now, no doubt an attempt to shorten the chasse. Djarfskald knew she was fending off the inevitable but she kept pushing herself.
"I think I hear something."
That voice. . . .That wasn't the sound of the Imperial soldiers behind her.
Djarfskald pushed forward, "Someone! Please help!"
"It could be a trap."
"Whoever it is sounds desperate."
The voices were getting closer but Djarfskald could still hear the sound of horses behind her.
"She's making enough noise to wake all of Tamriel. The Jarl wants us to find her."
Shadows from the tree line ahead seemed to morph into human form. Fear gripped her for a moment but as the armor became more visible that fear melted away. She recognized the figures draped in blue; they were fellow Nords willing to help their brothers and sisters in need. One hurried towards her, saying something that was lost in the wind. The soldier grabbed for their weapon and before fear could grip her, the world around Djarfskald went black as pain blossomed from the back of her skull.
Author's Note: I obviously have taken some liberty in this little bit, but I think it's worth it. Just my take on my character's reason for being put up on the chopping block. Also thought a definition of her name might be in order:
Djarfskald: Taken from djarfr (bold) and skald (poet)