A/N: The Prologue is purely a piece of writing meant to heighten a persons interest to the story; YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO BE CONFUSED. This is a story made purely for fun. I may not have all the quests or terminologies or legends correct, let alone names and places (though I will try my hardest). Some things I am making up, so please don't jump on them as mistakes. Obviously since I've decided to have four main characters this won't be the average Skyrim story. The purpose of having all these characters is because that there is quite simply too many paths for the Dragonborn to take... and I've been able to split them into four different persons. Please note that not all four are Dragonborn, but only one, the other three serving as a varying amount of acquaintances and, later on, friends. I promise nothing. Trust me, trust the story, enjoy. Please note for convenience and anyone's confusion that I've posted a list of the four characters at the bottom of this page and in that the basic details about them. Thank you for reading, sorry for any typos. Enjoy. -Taryn(:
"Is that book for sale?" the dark haired Orc asked. Around her stood a rickety stone and wooden shop, inside of the rickety stone and wooden city of Windhelm. It was merely by chance she had visited this hold after so long a time, traveling rather far from her home in Riften all because of a meager piece of paper written in the hand of a woman she had met... what was it? Two.. three? Three years, on the dot, since that fateful day in Helgen.
"You mistake my house of curiosities for a shop," Calixto, the owner to the museum, informed the stranger. The man was not keen on seeing an Orc all dressed in fine, steel-plated armor parading around his shop. She could tell by the look in his dark eyes. "Perhaps you will find books you like across Stone Quarter at The White Phial. I hear he's been looking for someone to do him a bit of dirty work. You seem the type, no? Hunting for gold?"
Titmouse, the Orc, lifted her eyes from the book of her fascination for a moment to survey the sudden look of greed and interest in the man's face. "I have gold enough," Titmouse grunted.
"Oh, I see," Calixto said somewhat slyly. "Well.. if it does not burden you so.. for two septims I shall give you a tour of my magnificent treasures." The somewhat old and gray haired man rose from his chair placed in front of the museum's entrance and wandered over to Titmouse's side.
Titmouse eyed the man. She knew that she shouldn't linger in the museum long. The letter had told her to be at New Gnisis Cornerclub in the Gray Quarter before sundown, but she had arrived by horse to Windhelm a bit sooner than either she or her sender had anticipated, leaving her with a curious amount of time to do what she'd always done. To shop for new books. Ones full of fresh adventures and tales or myths. The kinds of stories that melted a person's heart or gave their arms gooseprickles by their chilling words, and of course, her favorite, the ones about the Gods, specifically the Nine Divines.
But the book that sat in front of her on the rather plain shelf was different. Very curious to say the least.
"What can you tell me about this book?" Titmouse said. She handed the man two septims from the pouch hanging off her belt. "'The Book of Fate' it says, but I see no author.." She touched it lightly on its worn bindings. "Did you write this?"
"Oh, no, not me," Calixto said. "It is not known who wrote The Book of Fate. What I do know is that the pages are suppose to change with each reader, withholding for them their personal destinies."
"And it works?" Titmouse asked.
"Sometimes." Calixto picked up the book and held it out to her. He was smiling. "You tell me."
Doubtfully she took it from him, the book surprisingly heavy. Titmouse weighed it between her two wide, broad hands and then pursed her lips. "I do not think I wish to..."
"Why ever not? People go through strains and asperities just to glimpse their futures. They give away a lifetime of their efforts. A family fortune. Even their very souls to greedy wizards or Gods. I am handing it to you for free and you will not look?"
Titmouse forced him to meet her delicate gaze, a quality not found in many Orsimers. "What if it's blank?" she asked.
Calixto laughed. "Clever girl." He took the book from her again and placed it back on the shelf. "It has been contemplated that blank pages could mean a many number of things. My sister, Gods bless her soul, once suggested it meant that thou who looked upon blank pages would have an option few people are given. To build your own destiny is a tedious thing. Something that'll take time, or at least, in the case that one would hope for a happy ending."
"And the other theories?"
"Less fortunate." Calixto raised his eyes to Titmouse. "A nearing death, perhaps. Or a crazy old shopkeep's ruse to earn a good hot meal with your two septims."
Titmouse laughed, the sound of it rumbling deep within her chest. The mirror of her smile on the man's face. "I thought this was a museum."
"Ah, quite right." Calixto moved toward the backroom, disappeared through the doorway and Titmouse heard the creak of a chest's hinges and the clang of coin on coin.
Now is my chance, she thought. Without further ado the Orsimer leaned over, plucked The Book of Fate from its place and tucked it into her overflowing pack. It was a wonder she could carry so much. More oft than not Titmouse was weighed down with an extraordinary amount of books instead of excess armors or weapons. Easily enough she filched a different, similarly colored book from her large collection of literature.
Moments later Calixto returned to the room and gave her an apprehensive look. "Oh, I see you've found Ysgramor's Soup Spoon!"
Titmouse examined the fork in her hand carefully. She had picked it up at the last moment, hoping to draw all the attention she could from the book on the shelf with the title 'The Wolf Queen' written clearly on its bind. "This is a fork," she corrected Calixto.
"Then you do not the tale, traveler. Come, sit. I must tell it to you. It's–"
"I am afraid not, shopkeep." Titmouse replaced Ysgramor's Soup Spoon. Her kind blue eyes gazed out the museum's windows to the pinkening gray sky. "I must go now. My friend waits without, not doubt freezing herself into an Altmer icicle." On her way to the door she passed Calixto and gave him one last smile. "Put my septims to good use, shopkeep. I bought you a nice meal, not mead." Then she was gone.
Windhelm was not Titmouse's type of beauty. Where there wasn't soaked boards of wood there was weathered stones rimmed with frost, and long spears of ice hanging from the slopes of high buildings or walls. Around her it seemed dark already, even though the sunset painted the world a little yellow; something different from the usual gloom only Windhelm could hold. As Titmouse stepped down into the Stone Quarter just before the front gate she looked up. Directly to the north, raised above all of Windhelm and pale in the dusk light she could see the foundations to the Palace of the Kings.
Titmouse shook her head in dismay.
Once over that spasm of sadness she continued to walk. She thought of the man who lived in that palace. Ulfric Stormcloak. A jarl of many ambitions and dreams. A son of true Skyrim. The being who tore Skyrim to pieces. Many names people have given the leader of the rebellion, but only Titmouse called him a pitiable boy. He has hurt so many, she knew. Ulfric hurt hundreds and killed an uncountable amount by his own hands.
She remember the way Whiterun looked up in flames. The horizon had been blood red, reflecting the loss of the people there, the spatters of the real thing across Whiterun's walls. Titmouse tasted bile in her throat. The screaming was the worst part. Raven's insane, grievous shrieks of fear. Titmouse's heavy, stained eleven mace weighing down her hand as she ran...
Titmouse only wished that Ulfric was more tactful. That was all. Just a little more mercy, on both sides would have cured a whole world of hurt. Might have even gotten a God to smile down on them.
But all her thoughts were a trifle too late.
New Gnisis Cornerclub was far within the Gray Quarter of Windhelm. Though the Gray Quarter was named out of prejudiced hate for Dark Elves and the impoverish nature of the place, Titmouse preferred it to the Stone Quarter, and far more than Valunstrad. The snow was dirtier due to the lack of wind cutting through the area, thanks to the lower level. This way Titmouse could loosen the hold she had on the wolf pelt she draped over her shoulders and neck to keep warm. As an Orc, she seemed to prefer the warmer climates and compared to Valunstrad where the wind cuts like a blade, the Gray Quarter was tropical.
With night quickly approaching the inhibitors of the Gray Quarter were dispersing. Off to shelters to hide from the night's chill, either to their bed, a whore's bed, or New Gnisis Cornerclub for warm mead and stories to share.
Behind two men already half in their cups Titmouse entered the pub. By that point in her life she was used to being the only Orsimer in establishments and very weakly tried to conceal her face by pulling the wolf fur over her head and around her face. Most of the people inside were Dark Elves, a few Nords and those handful of beings she could not make out in the back of the room, shadows clinging to their clothes and hiding their identities.
Titmouse knew she should be careful to the one she approached. Startle the wrong person and that could set off a series of unfortunate events. She had experience in this kind of thing. There was a tall figure in the back, taller than the rest and she had half a mind to approach it, but decide instead that it'd be safer if her sender were to come to her. She took a seat at the bar, ordered water and sat sipping it, waiting.
It was near half an hour before a tavern assistant, Malthyr Elenil, came around to stand in front of Titmouse. He offered her another glass of water and she accepted appreciatively. The Dunmer studied her a moment as she swished the water between her teeth.
"One can never know the business that commences between an Orsimer and an Altmer, but this one may keep his curiosity to himself for a few.. shiny remembrances."
Titmouse narrowed her eyes. "An Altmer?"
"Who sent me to tell you of her whereabouts. One such as I does not get paid half so much as a man needs working in this dump called Windhelm." Malthyr slid a dark hand across the bar, palm up. "Perhaps I will remember where she is with a little help."
Leave it to Keera to hire a greedy Dark Elf as a messenger. Titmouse left a healthy amount of coins in the Dunmer's hand and he withdrew it swiftly. They clanged as he counted them. "Did that help?" she asked.
"Oh, yes," Malthyr said. He bit experimentally into one of the septims. "I seem to remember a house. Yes, one that stands rather tall within Valunstrad. Goes by the name Hjerim. I can show it to you personally for a few more coins."
"No, there will be no need of that," Titmouse told him. She rose from her seat and exited the pub with a sense of dread. This was strange. Keera did not hide. That was not like her at all. Especially not in Windhelm, this was a second home to her.
In a hurried pace, trying to outrun the rising moon in the distance, Titmouse reached Valunstrad just as the city guards traded shifts. One of them watched her rather sharply as she walked toward the wealthy houses on the raised level of Windhelm. She wondered if it was because of her pace or her race.
Hjerim's front doors weren't locked. Titmouse felt a trickle of unease along the back of her neck. Under her breath as she walked inside she muttered her prays to the Divines.
The house's front room was empty except for piles of disarray. A toppled barrel lay across an empty mead bottle covered floor with broken artifacts scattered around them. An aimless chair and table sat eerily nearby and with the quietest footsteps Titmouse approached it. She placed a hand on its dusty surface. No one could have been here in a long, long time, she thought.
A shadow whisked on the wall across her and she whirled, hoping to find Keera.
Right before the entrance was a staircase, but she followed the shadow to find it came from the similarly deserted kitchen. The movement had only been a ragged curtain fluttering weakly against its filthy window, almost sliding completely off the curtain rod.
"I am growing paranoid," she told herself, turning back around. Except only to tense again, at the sight of the blood stains spattering the floor and wall.
Immediately, she wondered why Keera would bring her into this mess.
A hand on her mace and another clutching the wolf pelt at the soft skin of her throat, she approached the stairs. She could hear something up there... breathing, if she was not mistaken. The cob webs hanging across the walls stirred as she walked passed and when her foot touched the bottom step it screeched loudly in complaint.
"What was that?" a man's voice demanded. "Who's there?"
Titmouse held her breath.
"Did you hear that?" the same man's voice asked.
"I didn't hear anything," croaked a woman. Keera? Titmouse thought. It sounded like her, a little, but it seemed weak.
"Stay, I'll go check it out," another, softer man's voice responded to hers.
Titmouse heard the creak of the floorboards as someone stood and began walking toward the front of the house. For a fleeting moment she thought about sneaking, changed her mind, hesitated twice, then pulled her mace and shifted the shield slung across her back to hold out in front of her.
So far she knew of three opponents. She could take them, there had been worse odds against her before. Not keen to the idea of waiting to be discovered she boldly walked up the stairs and met the approaching antagonist in Hjerim's second floor hallway.
The man was no bigger than her. A few inches shorter, really, with a slimmer build and a weak wooden and stone axe clutched between his hands. Forsworn axe, that was obvious, almost as apparent as his crudely made animal skin armor, his pale chest bare and legs covered with various bones and claws and teeth. At the cock of the man's head the antlered, stag helm he wore threw a strange shadow across the floor.
Forsworn in Eastmarch? What has Skyrim come to? "I am looking for a friend," Titmouse said cautiously. "I do not wish to fight, if it can be avoided."
She could not see the man's face underneath the helm but before he could process any reply, there was a shout from the illuminated bedroom behind him. "Titmouse!" Keera exclaimed hoarsely. "Bring her, quick, please.."
The Forsworn man replaced the axe to his belt and Titmouse did that same with her mace. "Be warned, I am watching you," he said quietly as she passed. "One wrong move and I will not hesitate."
The second floor was just as empty as the first, except the lingering smell of blood seemed to refresh itself, curdling against Titmouse's nose as she walked into the bedroom. A ball of white light hung near the ceiling, blinding the Orc momentarily. Then she blinked and took note of the huge, hulking figure responsible for the first male voice she had heard.
It was an Orsimer like herself, but not one bit similar. He wore Forsworn armor as the man in the hallway, a lethal longsword strapped to his broad, green skinned back. The vague horns sticking from his forehead were almost as prominent as the teeth protruding from his down turned lips, a tuft of thick black hair slicked across his scalp. He had hard, pitiless black eyes that watched Titmouse as she entered the room from beneath a heavy brow and a white and black war painted face.
"Careful," croaked the humorous voice of Keera from the middle of the room. "Brokul the Beast is old fashioned, I've seen him rip a man's arm off and beat him to death with it."
Brokul the Beast growled low in his throat. Titmouse tried not to frown.
In the middle of the room was an old, moldy bed and two chairs, thrown on their sides beside it. Blood trailed along the wooden floor to the bed and that's what Titmouse's eyes followed first, all the way up to the blood covered mattress, to the mage robes where the crimson liquid pooled, until those kind blue eyes landed on Keera's pale face.
Titmouse went instantly the High Elf's side, sitting herself awkwardly on the edge of the bed. Keera smiled weakly. "Old friend, please, do not look at me like that. I will heal."
"Heal yourself," Titmouse said. She was bewildered as to why Keera had not done so already.
"I cannot. It is beyond my healing skills and from a source who severely wished for me to die." She paused, breathing heavily. By the blueish hue of the wound Titmouse saw on Keera's abdomen, she guessed it was a poison that caused the redundant bleeding. "I only have called you here for a favor, if it please you."
Acts of kindness were something of Titmouse's own trade... as long as it did not include precious gems and expensive prizes, she would do it quite well. "What is it you wish of me?"
"I have done–" but Keera cut off there, voice falling into a round of hacking. Blood bubbled from between her teeth as she moved a crimson covered hand to press into her mouth. Titmouse moved her clean one to replace pressure to the slash underneath the Altmer's ribcage.
"She has done something she regrets," said a voice from behind Titmouse. She raised her head to see that the Forsworn Breton from the hallway now moved across the bedroom, around the bed and to Keera's opposite side. He had removed his helm to reveal a handsome, strong featured face. The Forsworn's wide green eyes stared tenderly down at Keera from underneath bronze hair unkept with sweat and dirt.
Keera spat saliva and blood on the floor. The hand over her face moved to ghost a few fingers across the Forsworn's cheek, leaving smears of scarlet in their wake.
Titmouse had almost thought she should mention Keera's husband to end the pure intimacy of that act.
"My Brotherhood burns," Keera rasped, looking to Titmouse again, her amber, crimson ringed eyes burning sorrowful holes into Titmouse's face. "Raven sends me messages of doom. Prisoner has not responded to any of my letters. You... you are the only one to come. Go to Solitude. Find Prisoner, search his home. We need him, Titmouse."
"You will not come?" Titmouse asked. Keera fell into another fit, the blood dripping slowly across her goldenrod colored chin and cheek. The motherly side of Titmouse's personality came out then and she pulled the wolf pelt from her armor and placed it gently across Keera's body.
The Breton man leaned forward, petting back Keera's matted dirty blonde hair. He gave Titmouse a grieved glance. "She must go to Winterhold with myself and Brokul. The College remembers her fondly and they will have the power to heal her."
"That is rather far from your home, is it not?" Titmouse asked the Forsworn suspiciously.
"I am already far from home, stranger," the Forsworn told Titmouse. "But I would travel across the whole of Tamriel if I have to."
"Please," Keera said, reaching a hand out. The man took it tightly between both of his, but Keera had eyes only for Titmouse. "You must hurry."
"I will," Titmouse promised.
The Orc standing at the doorway was suddenly at her side. There was a intimidating gleam in the back of his eyes before he held out a pouch for Titmouse to take. It was full of coins she discovered, more coins than she had ever been given at one time. "I can't take this," she said, though her instincts were zinging at the feel of the heavy bag in her hands. She made no move to return it despite her words.
"Take it.. use it... the–" Keera did not finish.
"The way to Solitude is faster with more coin, Orc," the Forsworn at Keera's side informed Titmouse.
Titmouse nodded, tied the pouch to her belt and hesitated on leaving. "How will you get to Winterhold?"
Keera only closed her eyes, exhausted by the coughing and the pain. The man withdrew a potion from his pocket and begged her to drink of its healing contents. She did, but only with his hand opening her jaw and it was almost instantly coughed back up.
Titmouse did not know if she could stay any longer. She hated seeing the sufferings of others and the sight of her old friend... the energetic, wild eyed Altmer she had known for years.. lying close to the way of Oblivion was almost too much for her to bear.
"She will get there, dead or alive," Brokul the Beast grunted and he conveyed with his huge hands to vacate the room. Titmouse went wordlessly and let the Orc lead her all the way to the front door, the sound of Keera's ragged, liquidated breathing following after her.
Just before she opened the door she stalled. "Wait, I forgot." Titmouse reached into her pack and dug around for a few moments, then withdrew a book. "Give this to Keera, I thought she'd want it."
The Orc examined it with a raised eyebrow. "'The Book of Fate'?" he quoted.
"Its a reminder."
"That you can always chose your own destiny. Don't you let her die. You hound her until she is begging for a knife to end it herself. You make sure if she's getting tired you duck her head in water. Tell her that the pages are only blank when a person is special enough to create their own fate. Give it to her, tell her... make sure she hears." Titmouse gazed momentarily to the staircase passed the Orc's shoulders. "And if she doesn't hear that.. than tell her that by dying she's only doing what half of Skyrim wants her to do."
Brokul the Beast lifted his chin to study Titmouse. There was a gleam of something kind in those black eyes, she thought she saw. "The Titmouse knows Keera well," he said. "Keera does not obey."
"You tell her that, she'll live. You'll see."
The two of them parted, Titmouse misty eyed and Brokul the Beast grave faced.
After the sun rose the next morning Titmouse found herself a carriage heading for Solitude. As she climbed inside next to a Nord and a Redguard, one of them said to the other, "Did you hear about that assassin and the Emperor?"
"That's old news!" the Redguard insisted. "Have you heard about the Dragonborn's disappearance?"
"I heard that the Dragonborn died, actually."
"No, impossible. The Greybeards have been calling the Dragonborn still, every once and a while. They'd know if the Dragonborn was dead." The Nord leaned a little closer to the Redguard. The carriage rocked into motion. "They say the Dragonborn's taken to joining the Imperial army."
The Redguard scuffed. "Woman's gossip. He's taken no side of this damned civil war."
"Then who was the mysterious dragon armored being who burnt Whiterun to the ground?"
"Someone who raided a dragon's carcass, that's all. Ulfric should count his lucky stars that they'd shown up when they did, they saved that battle for the rebels. Gave them a huge advantage in the war."
"But Markarth's temple of Talos was just destroyed in retribution. The Stormcloaks are out of The Reach and the Forsworn are growing bolder."
"I hear Solitude is safe."
"That's why I travel there," the Nord smiled. Then he noticed Titmouse for the first time. He turned to her and asked her why she's making a trip to the capitol of Skyrim.
Widened, knowing eyes landed on the two men and Titmouse shrugged numbly. "I heard the Temple of the Divines was nice this time of year."
THE REBEL – Altmer (High Elf)
Name: Keera Mete
Appearance: Tall and slender in the ways of an Altmer with goldenrod colored flesh and amber almond-shaped eyes that are ringed at the pupil with crimson Keera possesses the magisterial looks of a Thalmor. She has deft, flat hands good for gripping and sturdy arms to go with them, not much for sitting at desks or inside council meetings. From her childhood she possesses three, thin scars running down the middle of her left cheek, puckered and pink from years of wear. Other more individual qualities are that she has prominent cheek bones and the plane of her broad forehead is slightly too large, a messy tangle of dirty blonde hair cascading from that hairline to shoulders.
Personality: She loves to push the limits of any and every boundary. Keera Mete takes it as an insult when given a stereotypical standard and strives to prove them wrong. She doesn't feel remorse when committing a bad deed, not usually at least, but does pity people often. When it comes to the Gods and the Divines and the Daedric Keera doesn't choose, but merely moves to whichever will consider her personally at the current given time. She likes eventfulness and entertainment, but once she likes a person, she sticks with said person whether they betray her or not. With that fierce loyalty comes naive consequences, leading her down paths less taken... and those not always pretty...
THE LONE WOLF – Bosmer (Wood Elf)
Appearance: Short and adroit, with slightly green-tinted tan skin lying underneath the tattoos lining his shoulders and collarbones, Prisoner is easily picked out of a crowd – that is if he's naked.. which happens quite more oft than necessary. He has only one tuft of straight, fine white hair sticking out the top of his dome in a high ponytail. Prisoner's face is pinched and pointed from chin to cheekbones to creased forehead, giving his overall face an unfriendly scowl. Individual to him directly Prisoner has an extra pinky toe on his left foot and an under-bite but one that is not much noticeable when compared to an Orsimer.
Personality: He quite simply doesn't choose sides. There is only one side.. his. Prisoner comes from a hard and mysterious life of which no one has ever heard about. Sometimes he'll hint at other times, or this person and what not, even a different, truer name... but Prisoner is a wood elf who enjoys doing reckless, money-gaining quests. Badass enemies and weapons and armors are things he spends time dwelling on, while he uses such things to fight against – mostly – bad causes. Prisoner loves the thrill of a fight, a fact that has left him with the name Prisoner... and a famous, feral temper...
THE THEIF – Orsimer (Orc)
Appearance: Similar to all Orcs Titmouse has green skin with the slightest hue of blue underneath. She has favorable facial qualities; supple cheekbones, kind blue eyes, deep sapphire colored tattoos lining cheeks, jowls and forehead. Her one deeming factor sprouts from the utterly noticeable under-bite, the teeth poking stubbornly from her lips at all times. Titmouse is less thick in build, but smooth instead, with withstanding shoulders and muscled thighs. One the top of her head is a trademark bun of shiny black hair tied by a silky ribbon – stolen silk ribbon – making Titmouse's tall build not hard to miss in a crowd.
Personality: Titmouse has a kinder soul than her fellow Orsimers. Though built to be a warrior and handy with maces, she has a particular dislike for the sufferings of others. She believes in the Gods, specifically the Divines, and reads quite obsessively of fairy tales. Often she scolds and loathes herself for her awful luck... and those ten little digits she has.. that just always seem to be so damn sticky...
THE COWARD – Redguard (Human)
Name: Raven Searle
Appearance: By the help of her sturdy build, the dark skin of a sand dweller and wide brown eyes, Raven plays the part of a female warrior quite well. Raven has a thick, chunky scar lining the underside of her right jaw from a fight she had some two years back, proving her worth. From a drunken night spent at the town of her birth on the outskirts of Hammerfell Raven has deep gray tattoos lining from fingertips to shoulder blades, then even more cascading down the deeply sun-kissed plane of her upper and lower back. The design of them is a mystery to her, something elven or dwarfish, maybe even just swirls, but she likes them despite the fact that she can not fully recall how she got them.
Personality: Spontaneous at times, Raven can be found doing crazy stunts – with the help of alcohol – but she is generally a good-doer. She is a friendly person who enjoys talking and hates the eerie quiet almost as much as a child does. Adept at listening and obeying Raven often does things quite simply because someone suggested it. Though trained in combat, Raven Searle is quite young to travel all alone and oft gets herself in frightening situations... which causes many retreats on her part, back to her beloved town Whiterun. Enemies she knows she can not best send her running... looking for allies – a line of powerful back up – and returning to those friends she so desperately and easily makes...