He had destroyed the eater of worlds in Sovngarde, saving the world from a fate which seemed so set in stone. He had run his fingers over a wall which told his destiny deep in Sky Haven temple. Seen the Elder Scrolls mad writing, had seen the three heroes banish Alduin in time! He spoke the language of dragons and had felt their blood on his blade. He was Dragonborn! Hero of Skyrim! Savior of Nirn! The legendary Dovahkiin. Songs were sung for him, children pretended to be him. All looked to him in envy of his prowess. But each time he looked into the reflection of his helm he saw a foreign man. Surely he was not this hero. Surely he was not this brave.
Upon returning to the Throat of the World and having his final conversation with mighty Paarthurnax he sat upon the snow covered mountain looking out to the world below. Musing his purpose before knowing he had one final journey to take before he could consider this quest of defeating Alduin, done.
Only the steady clops of his horse's feet and the thrumming insects around him filled the air. All was peaceful otherwise. A rarity in his chaotic life. He went along a path which was burned into his mind, though he had only traveled it once before. His eyes were cast to his saddle, trusting the horse entirely to lead him to his destination. The Dragonborn was free to think, to replay in his mind their conversation. To recall how he shook in fear of what was to come. The confusion in why me? His eyes lifted to behold the gate. The mighty stone walls and sturdy gate still in tact, just as he remembered.
Dismounting his horse he walked over to the thick wood of the gate and pushed it open to reveal the carnage. The fires had stopped. The screams had been silenced. The dragon's call was not there. Yet still he felt his heart swell with dread. This was his beginning. The path which he had originally taken inside was lost to a fallen tower. The homes which had proudly stood were now cindered skeletons. He walked forward, toward the place which had claimed his thoughts. His feet knew exactly where to go before his mind could agree, carrying him to the first house which half stood in the wreckage. The doorway could still be picked out, and the reek of burns still covered the place. Out of the corner of his eye upon entering the home he saw the burnt corpse of a man beneath a beam.
While running through this house he had seen him, still scrambling to get out and begging for help. Yet he had just followed the Imperial solider to safety. Away from the fires. Away from the dragon. He'd left that man to die.
He tore his eyes away and slowly walked through the rest of the house, exiting from a door to the side to take in a large stone wall. Without thought he went to it and pressed his back against it.
The shout of the solider, screaming for him to remain against the wall as they went. Before the black scaled dragon took perch atop it. Its long wings shielding their bodies, and above hung its head. He could see as the beast took a breath, how its neck tensed before letting its thu'um roar out.
He could feel the heat from its flames still as he stood against the wall. Forward he went again. Lifting himself onto a wooden walkway to take in the sight of the two towers standing still in the wreckage. He saw the house he had leapt into from one of the towers, and briefly recalled the little boy. How he had asked his father who he was, who the men on the carriage were. He wondered if the child had survived the attack, or if he was among the charred bodies still left behind. The Dragonborn's thoughts were stolen from him as he heard the voices of someone else. Bandits. Thugs. It didn't matter. They had invaded this sacred space. Brandishing an iron sword he dashed forward, leaping over stakes of wood and fallen rubble.
His sword swung true, landing in the neck of an Orc bandit. He and the bandit fell before he ripped free the blade and spun to land it in a second bandit. Her strong war cry was cut short as his blade slid through her with remarkable ease. The third and final thug was a redguard. He stayed away from the mighty Dragonborn, a glint of fear in his eyes as he drew back an arrow in his bow.
He had no chance though, with a sharp breath the mighty hero demonstrated his Thu'um, "FUS RO DAH!" the archer's released arrow spun on him, knocked back into the wall as he was. But the arrow at the force of the shout pierced his neck. Leaving him to bleed broken on the ground. Dragonborn stood tall as he surveyed his work in silence. So easily cut down by his elite skill; skills which he did not possess prior to his arrival in Skyrim. Before he could barely swing a blade with enough force to down an enemy in a single strike. His voice did not demand attention, it had barely made others look to him before! He held no courage. No honor. No dignity! But now? Now he was a hero.
As he had asked upon seeing the gates of Helgen aboard the carriage, why me? He walked forward into the little square. Taking off his helm he looked into its reflection once more. Who was he? Really? Was he the mighty hero all cherished? Or the coward he had been all his life before? His eyes scanned his reflection for the answer to his question, before slowly lifting to glimpse what he had come here to see. He moved forward at an agonizingly slow place, each step filled with lead as he reached the small chopping block in the center. Falling to his knees he stared down at it. At the flecks of blood still there.
His fingers gripped the iron helm, before setting it atop the block and bowing his head. In honor of a man he once knew, to a man he had loved and cherished, and would forever miss. Upon the block he had died so long ago. His heart had stopped in fear of the blade positioned above. The ghost of this man had followed him ever since, to the crypts of Nords beneath, to the unforgiving dens of dragons, and through the strongholds of bandits it had been ever present. Begging to flee, to turn a blind eye to those in need of help. Yet the ghost had left him on the wings of Odahviing.
Now here he kneeled, finally putting to rest the boy who had died on this spot. Who had been reborn as a man destined to become a hero.
Standing once more he turned and departed. Head held high and eyes steady on the path ahead. The helm of the Dragonborn resting behind on his grave.