Becoming a Hero
"All hail to Ulfric, you are the High King!
In your great honor we'll drink and we'll sing!
We're the children of Skyrim and we fight all our lives.
And when Sovngarde beckons, every one of us dies."
Chapter 3 – even 'til Sovngarde takes me…
I remember my first life…
The world of convergence, a world in which all others could be viewed; I was just some no name gamer with a penchant for strategy and role-playing games. Then through some twist of fate I ended up in Tamriel, during the end of the Third Era. I had a strange power, a power to ensure my existence and purpose.
I found love, a sense of duty and a family in that Era. After my death, I was surrounded by light.
Endless blinding light…
Then I woke up.
I woke to a world of concrete jungles and towers of glass reaching towards the sky. Outside the air choked me with disease and corruption. Great steel beasts roared down roads of black and up into the open skies…
I was back on Earth.
Nearly a year passed, my monotonous life wore at me. My job didn't help any. I worked as a cashier at this pawn shop a few blocks away from my house. It was decent paying and I met a slew of 'interesting' people. I almost enjoyed, if not for one thing…
It dulled my battle-hardened skills and I could feel my magicka stores slowly wither away. I desperately tried to retain my prowess by constant training, but without the constant battles and true danger, I merely slowed the inevitable.
Like my body, my mind slowly deteriorated. I dreamed of Tamriel and its wonders. I dreamed of Oblivion and its horrors. I saw my dear friends in everyday life and my dead enemies in every shadow. Paranoia, Dementia, Schizophrenia, PTSD; I pretty much had it all. I saw a therapist every weekend for the past few months, mandatory as per my family's orders.
I idly considered killing them all. I was sick in the head to be sure…
I wondered if I would become mad as the Mad God himself.
It was three months into the New Year when I finally snapped. Luckily enough, it happened at the right time.
March 8, 2012:
At 3:44 pm, five masked men armed with handguns were witnessed enter a pawn shop. Ten people: three employees and seven customers were within the building. At exactly 4:00 pm, two of the gunmen were thrown from the building through the storefront window. Both suffered from severe lacerations to the chest and abdominal sections and dismemberment of their lower arms. A third gunman was thrown through the entryway, a dagger lodged in his head and an axe embedded in his lower intestines. Four police officers arrived on the scene at 4:10 pm and entered the premises. Two officers exited and radioed for medical personnel.
Medical personnel arrived at 4:43 pm and removed two body bags from the premises. Both remaining gunmen died of severe blunt force trauma and violent removal of their esophagi.
All civilian personnel left the premises uninjured. Two of the employees left the premises prior to the building exploding. The third employee's body was never recovered.
The endless light returned.
And then a voice echoed through the light, soothing yet monstrously powerful.
Alok kotin faal jun…
Alduin fent diivon faal hind do jul…
Komeyt hinThu'um ahrk fonaar kotin grah…
Viik Drog Alduin, Krinvahzii…
I was filled with that same strange and familiar power from my second life. My bones ached and my muscles cried out as my body morphed, changing into a more powerful form.
As sudden the pain was, it was over in the blink of an eye. Once I was a weak gamer, then a battle-scarred warrior.
Now I was a majestic dragon, grey-white scales and huge wings. I was needed somewhere, a place far north of Cyrodiil, in a land of snow and ice.
Krah ahrk vul…
It was cold; cold and dark.
I shook against unseen bonds…
A foul stench filled the darkness…
The scent of death, of soil within a grave, was all-encompassing…
A distant thudding, the sound of great wings beating against the wind grew closer. It's grown louder; up above me, beyond this pitch-blackness, it stayed. A deep rumbling voice, one full of power and pride, sounded through the darkness.
A surge of powerful energy, alien yet familiar pulsed through my being. It gave me strength; power enough for me to break loose of my bonds. I exploded out of my prison, a mound of earth and soil with a mighty roar. Ethereal flames encompassed me, restoring my body to its former glory. Once dead, now alive, I was free of the earthen prison and had regained my honor, my pride. Pale grey, near white scales shone in the winter sun as flakes of snow gathered upon my renewed flesh. Fresh, cold air rushed through my returned lungs; I was alive once more, not as a man but as a dragon.
There up above was one who spoke; there hovered a majestic black dragon, one I could not recognize yet knew was my lord, master and king. Or so he believed.
He spoke in that strange tongue; one I did not know. Yet I understood all that he said.
Arise Courageous-Sky-Spirit. The world has long since changed since tour death. There is much strife amongst the mortals; easy prey for our warriors. Let us continue on our path of conquest, striking down those fools who would dare rise against us.
I felt a bile rise in my throat, a burning sensation; disgust…rage. I hated this black dragon with all my being.
My rage could not be contained and loosed a ball of fire at the arrogant king. The blast sent him hurdling into the trees. With cold fury fueling my body I took to the sky, instinct easily guiding me through the air. Wings beating with powerful strokes, I rose up above the clouds and dived back down, roaring at the still-fallen Alduin. He roared in return, loosing flames white frin. I dodged the torrent and answered with my own, further frying his black hide.
I fell upon him with a mighty crash and tore at his back with my fangs. He screamed in agony as I ripped out both scale and flesh. So focused I was in my attacks that I failed to sense the arrival of another dov.
I was tossed from Alduin's back by a powerful thu'um. An enormous pulse of blue jun, an Unrelenting Force pitched me into the rocky outcroppings on the forest floor. I dazedly watched as Alduin regenerated at an impossible pace and once again took to the sky. He roared at my fallen form and flew off, his unnamed ally hot on his tail.
"You will regret this Krinvahzii! Know that all dovah shall hunt you for your betrayal; beware the skies…fool."
I groaned as I struggled to stay conscious. I knew I had much to do, yet so little time was left. Skyrim would meet the its end if I did nothing to stop it.
Against my will, I blacked out and fell to the snow covered earth.
Dragon Bridge, Legion Encampment
Hadvar felt a faint sense of déjà vu. Once again he was ducking behind the wood palisade, the barrier protecting him from arrows and spell fire. The Stormcloaks were making another push across the stone bridge and the Legion had once again managed to hold them off. Cpt. Arturia was north near Solitude, leading a contingent of soldiers to Morthal to clear out a vampire clan that had taken up residence nearby. He'd been left in charge, much to his dismay.
To make matters worse, the Dragonborn was spotted behind enemy lines. Imperial intelligence proved wrong and she had remained here while Ulfric stormed Morthal. Talk about bad luck for the new captain.
"They've got a battering ram!"
Hadvar stole a glance at the bridge and they indeed had a battering ram, a hefty oaken log tipped in iron. Cursing softly, Havar was quick to dish out orders to his (temporarily) troops.
"Archers, concentrate your fire on the bridge. Mages, use Fireballs and any Rune spells to halt their advance."
The men (and women) were quick to respond, dozens of arrows and fire magick hurtled towards the unprepared Stormcloaks. They were tossed from the bridge, the battering ram toppling over as well. The survivors retreated but Hadvar had the mages set up some Runes along the stone bridge just in case.
Slowly the rain of arrows and spells ceased; the town and enemy encampment quieting as well. Hadvar breathed a sigh in relief. The first battle under his command and only a few injured men to show for it. The Stormcloaks never even made it across the bridge; a good sign to say the least.
Hadvar peeked out over the barrier and almost choked on his tongue. There, right across the gorge, was the Dragonborn; she stared right at him with her green eyes. And as quickly as he spotted her, she vanished. Trembling, Hadvar got down to assessing his men and supplies; he idly wondered why she seemed so familiar…
Shaking away his unnecessary thoughts, Hadvar got back to the tasks at hand.
Cpt. Arturia returned just as the sun was setting over the horizon, leading a small supply cart and twelve fresh recruits. Both were welcomed greatly by the still tired men of Dragon Bridge. Arturia was quick to receive Hadvar's debrief of the battle; she readily congratulated him on his victory.
"Hmph…and you were worried that you'd be a terrible Captain. Seems I'm proven right yet again…"
"Aye, you were right and I was wrong… That's beginning to be a trend now isn't it?"
She merely nodded and got back to going over some reports while Hadvar took his leave. Tomorrow was another day.
Across the gorge, Stormcloak Encampment
"This can't go on General; we've lost over eighty men just this month. We need a new strategy, a decent plan that'll get us across that bridge and behind those walls. Not another 'charge with fire in our hearts' suicide run."
The scarred veteran tiredly rubbed his temples as he presided over a war meeting with the Dragonborn and the fort commander, Ragnar the Bloody. Truly he wished he had some idea on what to do. The heavy push west had been largely successful, the Stormcloaks taking control of every hold until they reached the Karth River. The waterway served as a natural borderline for Imperial-controlled territories. The only exception was Morthal which was currently cut off from the east and south by a massive glacial wall that had appeared almost eight months ago. The blasted thing had just appeared one night and was nigh impenetrable and impassable; it was cursed according to some men.
"Bah! Just give me more men Stone-Fist and I'll have the town in a fortnight. We'd have taken the place sooner if the Dragonborn wasn't so cowardly. She's been holding us back, always questioning me in front of the men; she's undermining my authority here!"
Ragnar was savage in his rant, practically threatening the calm woman with his spiked-gloved fists. She merely glared back at him before dismissing him backhandedly. The angry Nord was further enraged and would have attacked her if not for Galmar's presence.
"Back down Ragnar; the lass would rip you apart before you even got close. Don't forget that those dragon skulls you're so proud of all came from her hunting those beasts done…alone."
Galmar Stone-Fist leaned heavily over the map of the local area, studying the faded ink carefully. He noted the potential crossing points up and down river, trying to find a suitable avenue for a small force to sneak in. He knew the Imperials had many troops patrolling the length of the river; not to mention the bloody Forsworn hiding in every nook and cranny of the Druadach and Reach.
"Ragnar, ready a small force; your best men, your veterans if you can. You'll head north and try crossing over at the mill. Stay hidden and only travel at night; if you have to travel by day, dress as brigands and keep off the main road. Head west and south over the mountains. In a week we'll attack the town from the bridge and you'll attack from the crags above. With any luck they'll be caught off guard long enough for us to send a force over to support you."
Ragnar grinned savagely, sending a smug glance to the still quiet Dragonborn. He'd show her; he'd lead his men to glory and give Ulfric a clear shot to Solitude. He'd be a hero…and then he'd show the bitch who was in charge. Oh, he'd show her…
With that, Ragnar marched out shouting for his men to gear up. The door slammed shut and Glunmar sagged in relief. Tier finally decided to speak up again.
"You just sent him on a suicide mission, didn't you?"
Galmar just stared at her as he gulped down his ale. With a heavy sigh, he explained…
"Ragnar's on his last legs. We've been having him spearhead the westward assault to keep him out of the way. The man's a brilliant fighter, a veritable beast on the battlefield; but he's no leader. We've been funneling the scum of our army to him, giving only those we don't want nor need, the former bandits, murderers and convicts that we conscripted from the Holds.
"I was surprised you haven't noticed actually. All twelve of his veterans are the last of them. The new recruits I brought with me, the ones Ragnar will be leaving behind, are fresh conscripts, clean as fresh snow. They've never seen any major battles so keep them safe and when Ragnar makes his move, withdraw. Let the Legion take care of him and his men. Ulfric doesn't need savages like Ragnar leading his men."
Galmar left at that, leaving Tier to her thoughts. It was surprisingly coldblooded of Ulfric…but Tier suspected that Ulfric didn't know about such actions either.
Ralof watched from his post as the fort commander and almost a third of the men stationed here headed north. He had a good idea what was going on; General Galmar having filled in a number of loyal men of his plan. Good riddance to the scum was his main thought. He soon returned to his musings on how to approach the Dragonborn…romantically. So far she'd either spurned his advances or outright ignored him.
His fellows were poor help; their advice foolish at best. Some suggestions were rather sound; being at her side during battle and proving his worth to her. Others were downright outrageous; coming to her at the dead of night and serenading her with the finest love poetry he knew. And he knew very few poems, none actually about love at all; all were either battle chants or raunchy limericks.
"Anything unusual Ralof?"
He turned and found a tankard of warm mead thrust into his hands by Freya, a fairly recent recruit to the encampment. Ralof grunted a negative at her question and kept his gaze to the road. Freya took a seat beside him, lighting up a fresh torch.
"You know Ralof, there's heavy wagerin' on when the Dragonborn'll slam down your next proposal. Any thoughts on when you're tryin' again? I'll split the pot if I place a good bet close to the date."
"Funny Fair-Shield, there's plenty of wagering on who you'll be bedding next. Any thoughts on who? I have my gold on Haldir and Hrodin…at once."
The woman growled at Ralof, gripping her iron battleaxe. It was no secret that she openly practiced her 'Dibellan arts' with anyone, man (or woman), willing. Some looked down on her for it and it got on her nerves many a time. She got up and left Ralof, returning to the warmth of the wooden lodge and its four hearths.
'I'll ask Tier to have dinner with me tomorrow night. If she says no, I'll back off a while longer. I'll keep trying for her hand; even 'til Sovngarde takes me.'