Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, celebrated and feared during her mortal span, stewed as she sat with companions of olden days. Hakon One-Eye, ever exuberant, was doing his best to dispel the black mood surrounding his fair-haired companion. Felldir the Old, wise as he was grim, quietly sipped his Valorous mead while the three vaunted heroes waited for the newest Dragonborn. A roar, familiar and hated, penetrated the divine stone of the Hall of Valor. Heroes innumerable took no notice, as Alduin's vainglorious boasts had been echoing for days.

"We have been waiting for days now, with sharp steel and restless hearts, for this young Dragonborn." Gormlaith began a familiar rant with flinty eyes and gnashed teeth. "Tell me, Felldir, why does this warrior tarry so?"

"Gormlaith, always so headstrong, have you not learned the lessons that granted you entry so long before us? Patience will be our strength and the wyrm's undoing; now settle down and drink your mead, for Hakon is watching with longing."

Gormlaith turned with a baleful stare, to which Hakon winked his milky-white orb. She downed her mead in one great swallow and was immediately filled with heady power. Normally, the mead and food in this place restored one to strength and healed all wounds; the Wyrm's resurgence, however, had sapped much of the divine magic Shor had invested in his Hall. It was yet another reminder of her failure in ancient days and that thought quickly sent Gormlaith back into her foul mood.

Then, sounding as a battle-horn, came the boom of the tall doors to the mead-hall being closed with authority. No souls had survived the journey to the Hall of Valor since Alduin had returned and that could only mean one thing.

"The Dragonborn is here, valorous companions. Let us gird ourselves for the coming battle!" Gormlaith exclaimed with a happy laugh that was answered by Hakon's quiet rumble.

Felldir simply rose to his feet and put on his mage's overcoat, atop which went the harness for his two-handed broadsword of ancient design. Gormlaith stood, retrieved her longsword and round shield from the floor, and quickly settled them about her person. Her sword went into the sheath at her left side while the shield was tightly strapped to her left arm. Pausing for vanity's sake, Gormlaith ensured that her plate armor presented the image of a warrior of fell might. Hakon, similarly garbed in heavy plate, clapped a hand on his friend and comrade's shoulder as he waited next to her with the handle of his long-handed, single-bladed axe over his shoulder. Soon, led by none other than Jurgen Windcaller himself, a figure that filled Gormlaith with unfamiliar confusion came into view through the throngs of heroes.

This Dragonborn walks like a mewling kitten, graceless and weak-kneed, and this is our greatest hope?

The Dragonborn was well under six feet in height and had the slender stature of an elf. All other features were hidden by the voluminous black cloak they wore. Even the eyes, which Gormlaith had always used to take a measure of friend and foe alike, were hidden in darkness. Against all sense, it seemed as though this Dragonborn was not even armed.

Perhaps they have the use of magic?

"These are the ones who shall be your shield-brothers and sister, Dragonborn." Jurgen introduced them individually with his usual understatement. "Gormalith Golden-Hilt, the greatest dragonslayer of her time. Hakon One-Eye, as stalwart a brother as you could ask for. Felldir the Old, far-seeing and wise. Now, I shall take my leave of you. May Shor watch over your battle as you send the beast into Oblivion."

Jurgen Windcaller bowed and quickly took his leave. Now, the three ancient heroes, tested and true, were faced with a puzzle. This Dragonborn asked no questions, made no boasts of his own deeds, and simply waited for one of them to fill the void. Predictably, it was Gormlaith's patience that eroded the fastest.

"You are Dragonborn and you stand there as a fledgling watching for your mother to teach you to fly?" She barked furiously. "How did you make it past Tsun? Some mage trickery?"

"Easy, Gormlaith, my excitable friend. Mayhaps this Dragonborn, as hard as it may be for you to believe, is simply modest and only wishes to see Alduin gone from the Planes for all eternity." This, the Dragonborn responded to with a nod. "Ah, you see. Now, Dragonborn, I am sure you have noticed the fog that permeates this holy valley? Well, that is the form that Alduin's soul-snare has taken. Within it, he can strike with impunity and devour souls at his leisure. Alone, none of us has the strength to disperse this unholy creation; together our Thu'ums will be potent enough to reveal the foul Wyrm. Then, we shall reap swift and terrible justice on our ancient foe. Do you understand?" The Dragonborn nodded again, perfectly still in all other ways, and Gormlaith's warrior spirit scoffed at their placidness. "Then come, Dragonborn, let us join together in glorious battle as sworn brothers! Come and fight with us!"

Felldir led the way back to the Hall doors with Hakon following. The Dragonborn turned to follow but Gormlaith reached out and snagged a piece of the robe. It felt odd beneath her hands but she paid it no mind as she drew near.

"Listen well, Dragonborn. I do not know how you snuck past Tsun but you will not sully this battle for me. Remain in the rear and try not to get in my way or I may mistake your face for Alduin's." For a brief moment, an intense pressure seemed to emanate from beneath the cloak, but then it was gone as if it had never been and the Dragonborn nodded meekly.

Gormlaith pushed him away, for a woman-warrior would never be so meek in her estimation, and followed her companions. She took a moment at the threshold to marvel at the starry sky above their heads. The sun was high but the unnatural gloom perpetrated by Alduin made it hard to see into the valley at all. Normally, the sky was a riot of colors under which the heroes fought endless tourneys to boast about that night during feasting and drinking. It had been a wonderful, heady time.

"Come, friends, it is a good day to di-" Remembering where and what he was, Hakon aborted the speech with a rueful chuckle.

"Let us go give the Wyrm that which he has been calling for!" Gormlaith shouted and was the first across the dragon-spine bridge.

Whatever beast had donated the bridge must have been a truly massive specimen but that was neither here nor there. Gormlaith had her own hated enemy to vanquish and nothing would stand in her way. Tsun was conspicuously absent at his usual post before the curving spires that marked the perimeter of the Hall of Valor. There was no hesitation as the quartet descended the stairs to the path that circled the valley that was Sovngarde.

"Together now!" Felldir called. "Clear skies!"

Long, hard-won practice against countless foes had attuned the three ancient heroes to the proper timing.

"Lok Vah Koor!" The thunderous echo of their combined voices blew away a sizable chunk of the fog in front of them with the Dragonborn addition coming a fraction out of step.

Alduin's ponderous, knee-shaking Thu'um sounded across the valley again as he summoned the fog. "Ven Mul Riik!"

The ground beneath them seemed to buck in rebellion as the fog surged back.

"Again!" Felldir commanded and this time the Dragonborn was nearly in rhythm. This time it took longer for the fog to return. "He is weakening! One more time, brave warriors!"

"Lok Vah Koor!"

The combined Shout seemed to come from the Thu'um of Akatosh himself as the fog dissipated with frightening speed. Gormlaith's heart, long since reduced to an ethereal remembrance, pounded within her chest as Alduin appeared over the horizon with a furious roar.

"Mal pook joorre! Ag ahrk aus! Dov Bah Qo!"

The sky began to burn and it was as if Gormlaith was transported back to the Throat of the World. Knees shaking, she drew her sword and hefted her shield. She would not give in, to fire or threat, until she saw the Wyrm defeated. Waving the meek Dragonborn back, Gormlaith advanced with her three stalwart friends.

"Bring him down!" Felldir commanded as he summoned a broad magical shield above them to protect them from the flaming rocks Alduin had summoned from the sky.

"Joor Zah Frul!"

Dragonrend from two accomplished users of the Thu'um was enough to sever Alduin's link with the skies. Unlike the first time, Alduin came to a graceful landing on all fours and studied them with a dreadful gleam in his eyes.

"Fus Ro Dah!" Alduin roared and Hakon tumbled through the air like a piece of fluff.

The power! Not in my most terrible nightmares was he so strong! Oh, Shor, give us strength!

Felldir and Gormlaith circled the great dragon in a classic pincer move. If only Hakon had been there, it may have succeeded as planned. Alas, he was not, and Felldir was swept aside by a contemptuous slash of Alduin's razor-sharp tail. That placed Alduin's toothy maw in line with Gormlaith and, as he opened to Shout in preparation to absorb her soul-self, the warrior-woman had time to wonder what good prophecies were if they were so dependent on mortal vagaries.

"Die, Wyrm!" Gormalith roared, showing the quality that had gained her entrance into the Hall of Valor. She held her sword and shield high as she charged.

That gloriously doomed charge was brought up short when she ran into the back of the Dragonborn. Before she could let loose a warning, Alduin was Shouting.

"Yol Toor Shul!"

The heat was tremendous but it washed to either side of the Dragonborn and, by extension, Gormlaith. In sheer disbelief, she watched as the Dragonborn lowered his hand and the cape, reduced to tatters, fluttered away in the backwash of air. Gormlaith found herself looking at a broad back armored in what she could have sworn was dragonbone. The hilt of a sword, of a sickly greenish hue, protruded from a furred sheath slung baldric style. Another sword, this one of a more familiar material, hung from the right side of his swordbelt. Horns, draconic in style, extended from the helm this dragonborn wore.

He's big.

Gormlaith's thought was a frightened understatement at the sheer size of this Dragonborn. He was at least half a foot taller than her own six feet and bettered even Hakon in sheer bulk. Now that the cloak was removed, that fell and awesome pressure was back a thousandfold and it threatened to forcibly bend Gormlaith's knees. Alduin took a moment to study the Dragonborn before letting loose what could only be described as a frightened bark.

"Julkaalin!" With that single, panicked cry, the great Alduin, World-Eater, took flight.

That flight lasted only a few seconds before the Dragonborn began to glow a malevolent crimson shade. He raised his hands, fingers spread wide in their dragonskin gloves, and Alduin stopped as though stuck in tar. Impotent roars, threats, and aborted Shouts echoed from his throat. Gormlaith took several steps back as the aura around the Dragonborn intensified. So focused was she on the spectacle before her, she barely noticed the return of her comrades.

"Did he clear the skies?" Hakon asked in awe.

"I believe he did." Felldir's voice was solemn as the Dragonborn almost casually spread his arms wide.

Alduin's roar of pain when both wings and all four legs were sundered from his body elicited a shout of approval from the three watchers. The great Wyrm flopped onto the ground, hot, stinking blood issuing forth in great torrents from his wounds, and he Shouted before the dust had settled. Meanwhile, the Dragonborn had drawn the blade from his back, shining like polished glass, and approached with measured steps.

"Krii Lun Aus!" Alduin Shouted that Shout which had proved many warriors undoing in desperation.

The Dragonborn held up his weaponless hand and, with a careless wave, the power of Alduin's Thu'um was harmlessly redirected into the ground a dozen feet away. The effect on the divine earth of Sovngarde was devastating as a deep crevice opened at the sight of impact. Alduin was opening his jaws for another Shout when, inexplicably, his tongue extended from his mouth. Then the Dragonborn was running forward with shocking speed to stab his blade into Alduin's vulnerable tongue. Dragon-blood, thick and viscous, sank into the earth as the strange blade was buried to the hilt. The Dragonborn bent low to whisper, almost lovingly, to the helpless Wyrm. Then he drew the steel sword, shimmering as though it were divine metal, from its sheath. He gripped the hilt in both hands and held it high above his head.

"Zahkrii Vey Vokul!" The Dovahkiin's Shout shook the ground beneath their feet and resonated in their very bones.

The sword became a blinding lance of light as it was brought down across the neck of Alduin. Impossibly, the Wyrm managed to roar as his body began to become undone before their eyes. Thunder rumbled, black lightning crackled across the sky, and then Alduin was no more. All that remained was the Dovahkiin's peculiar sword buried in the earth. For a moment, the Dragonborn simply stood over it solemnly, head bowed, before retrieving and sheathing it in a deceptively fast motion.

Tsun finally made his appearance, face blackened with healing bruises, and hailed the Dragonborn as victorous. The imposing figure, a demi-god among mortals, turned to gaze at his three companions. He had odd skin for a Nord. It had a decidedly reddish tone to it and his nostrils were too broad but the eyes, by Shor, were the most mesmerizing silver-blue shade that she had ever seen. The bars of stark white warpaint across his face only made them stand out even more. A full beard, half-gray, gave his otherwise youthful face an air of grave maturity. He gave each of them a fist-to-chest salute before nodding to Tsun to send him back to the mortal plane.

"Wait!" Gormlaith, always bold Gormlaith, shouted before the Dragonborn could leave. "What is your name?"

A hint of a smile came to his lips as he said, in his simple, unassuming way, "They call me Old Boy."



"Mal pook joorre! Ag ahrk aus!": "Puny, stinking mortals! Burn and suffer!"

"Julkaalin!": Three word Dragon-name "Mankind" "Champion" "Master"


Lok Vah Koor:Clear Skies

Ven Mul Riik: Soul-Snare

Dov Bah Qo: Dragon Storm Call

Joor Zah Frul: Dragonrend

Fus Ro Dah: Unrelenting Force

Yol Toor Shul: Fire Breath

Krii Lun Aus: Marked For Death

Zahkrii Vey Vokul: Sword of Light

This last Dragon-Shout is an invention of Boy's to fulfill a promise he made to Alduin during the battle that sent Alduin running to Sovngarde. You can guess what boy told him he'd do the next time they met. In my head, Dragon-Shouts are simple Words of Power that have been imbued with enough Will (for dragons)/Magicka (for mortals) by the original caster that the effect of the Words are the same as the more complex spellforms. The reason it's so hard to learn is because, without being imbued with the knowledge from someone that already mastered it, you have to focus your own Will/magicka until you come to that sweet-spot where the Word is Power.

Thanks for reading.