Ashe stepped out of the Town Hall of Freljord into the blizzard that was coating the mountainous region in over five feet of snow. The storm had been raging for three days now, and was showing no signs of letting up. After adjusting her cloak that was a warmer, thicker version of her trademark cowl and cape, the queen stepped down into the knee deep snow that covered the streets of her city-state.
Even with her affinity for the cold and dealing with winter weather conditions, Ashe still struggled a bit on her walk toward the covered area off to the side of the Town Hall where people tied their horses. When she approached, a young man stepped out from the small hut that sat next to the covered tying post and covered stable.
" Lady Ashe, shall I fetch Tollo for you?"
A simple nod answered him. " Be quick about it please." She said while pulling her cloak closer around her.
Hastily the boy scrambled down a small path that he had carved through the snow. He returned a moment later from the stalls leading a tall and well muscled dappled grey horse who'm he led to his master. Ashe took the reigns from him and swiftly mounted the beast.
" Thank you Patrick." She said with a nod and friendly smile before spurring Tollo into a steady canter.
For her the snow was slightly difficult to get through, but Tollo was bred from a long line of the finest Freljordian Mountain Horses to fly over the snow and rough terrain as if it where clouds. His breed was strong and hardy, yet still lean and beautiful. A perfect mount for a queen in her opinion.
They dashed through the streets that where empty at this time. Since the citizens had opted to stay indoors until the storm finally passed. All of them had been well prepared for the winter months, so the likely hood of anything going terribly wrong was not high.
The guards pushed open the large gate that led out of the western wall of the city-state when they saw Ashe and she waved to them as she rode by and steered Tollo down a steep trail that led to a large clearing. Where a party of four mounted hunters awaited their queen.
" Hail Lady Ashe." An older man said as Ashe hauled back on the reigns to bring Tollo to a halt at the bottom of the trail.
" Hail Travik, are you ready to make our rounds of the hunting grounds?"
" Aye my queen. We leave at your command." Travik said while motioning to the two young men beside him and the middle aged huntress.
Ashe cast a glance around and above her. The storm was beginning to surge and the snow flurried around them in harsh bursts. But she still she nodded to her party and kicked Tollo who sprang into a quick canter down the trail that led away from the clearing down into the thick forest. This hunting area was a dense with trees and boulders, along with rocky hills that spanned for miles until one would come to a large canyon that split the mountain range in half. It served as the dividing line between the tribes, and now they rode through their side of the forest in search of any signs of trespassers.
They followed a narrow trail that wound along a large rock wall. On the other side of them was a thick line of trees that even a small human would have difficulties passing through. The hunters investigated nearly every inch of the trail searching for signs of the other tribes. Thankfully none where found. Freljord could not spare even a pound of the game flesh that roamed the lush mountains at this time of year. Ashe knew that they would need every bit of food that they could gather to continue to survive the harsh winter months.
As they traveled on, the blizzard worsened. Ashe could barely see Tollo's ears through the sheet of snow in front of her and was relying on the horse's senses to carry her through the root, snow and ice covered terrain. Occasionally even as well trained to handle the harsh conditions as he was, he would slip or stumble through the knee deep snow that only got deeper the further they went.
Travik yelled to her from a few paces back, but she could not hear him over the howling wind that buffeted her cloak. So she pressed on, not hearing the warnings of her followers. Her mind raced to find a way to get her faithful subjects back to the safety of their homes. But it was beginning to look like a futile effort as the storm grew ever stronger and now Ashe could not even see her hand before her own face as she brought it up to attempt to shield herself from the icy flakes that froze her skin and clothing.
After a few more paces, Ashe finally brought Tollo to a halt, with Travik and the others close behind her. This time she heard the man's shouts.
" My Lady, we must turn back it is too dangerous."
Ashe turned in her saddle to respond, but as she did so the ground beneath them shook violently and a huge crashing sound could be heard from behind them. The trees began to lurch and crack against each other from the vibrations that rumbled through the earth below. Suddenly the horses reared and whinnied in fright from the chaos and their owners struggled to calm their animals down while tree after tree toppled over around them and one nearly came down on top of the last hunter and his horse who bolted forward down the tiny trail, ignoring it's rider's shouts to stop.
Ashe turned to look in the direction of the sound and could see a rolling wave of white rushing toward them through the gaps in the trees, and it was closing fast.
" Avalanche!" She yelled out to her hunters. "Run! Follow me!"
With this command the Frost Archer kicked Tollo to launch him into a full blown gallop with the others close behind her. Unfortunately, the trail only lead down, and she knew that they could not outrun nature's fury. Even with the help of their well trained steeds who made short work of the trees and thick brush, managing to stay in a fairly orderly line as Ashe led them off the trail.
The landscape began to slope upwards, but not enough to stop the rushing snow that was still closing at a deadly rate behind them. She dared not look behind her, for fear of losing even a second of sight that she might need to steer her horse through the maze of the forest.
Cries and muffled whinnies of horses could be heard in the distance behind her, no doubt the avalanche had already claimed one victim, which meant it was catching up. One by one she knew that mother nature was gobbling up her victims one by one until only Ashe remained.
Suddenly the forest ended and opened up into a flat snow covered area, and before her was a thin iced over land bridge that crossed the canyon. Desperatly Ashe spurred Tollo onward who was galloping s fast as his legs could carry them. The crashing sound of trees being covered up by the snow told Ashe just how close the avalanche was. So she set her sights on the other side of the canyon.
Tollo also seemed to understand that it was either brave the land bridge or die, so he transfered all of his power to his back legs to build up the momentum he would need to make it across. His hooves touched the icy surface of the rocks and nearly lost his footing there, but Ashe held fast to him and flattened herself against him as much as she could to help even out the weight of the two of them as he barreled over the cracking surface. With each stride the bridge began to crumble under their combined weight, and began to give way almost directly under them.
They reached the middle that was supported by one thin platoe and the land before them shattered and fell into the fog below. Ashe quickly adjusted herself as Tollo threw his head up and adjusted his own stride. When he reached the end of the slippery surface he leapt with all the power of his hind legs for the other side.
The archer couldn't close her eyes as she barely glanced down at the river that was miles below them through the light fog that hung over the area. Tollo's rough landing on the other side of the canyon jostled them both roughly as Ashe gripped the horse's mane in attempts to not be thrown from her saddle.
But he easily steadied himself after a moment, and they both breathed heavy ragged breaths and watched behind them as the snow from the avalanche spilled over the cliffs into the depths of the crack in the earth. After a long breather, Ashe dismounted Tollo, and the horse shook out his now sweaty mane that the still falling snow clung to. Ashe gave the horse an affectionate pat on the neck and soft words of praise before walking over to the edge of the cliff. The Freljord Queen knelt down in the frozen snow and took a moment to bow her head in silence with her right hand over her heart as a soft breeze played with her hair and soft snow flakes clung to her clothing. Her mind drifted to solemn thoughts of her companions, they had all been faithful to her, and took pride in their work of caring for their lands to help feed their people. When she finally did make it home, Ashe swore to herself to deliver the news to their families personally, despite the guilt that welled up in her heart now. It was her fault that they died, she should not have pressed on as she did, and now, she was trapped across the enemy lines at the mercy of the deadliest storm that Freljord had seen in over one hundred years.
Small tears fell from Ashe's eyes, but she quickly whipped then away before they froze on her pale cheeks and stood up while she rubbed her shaking arms and legs. She needed to be strong now, and find her way home. A quick shake of her head was all she needed for now to push back the memories of her fallen comrades and she looked from left to right to identify a new route.
With the land bridge now collapsed and not another one in sight, they where trapped on this side of the canyon, and that could mean trouble for Ashe and her people. This side of the canyon was ruled by the Winter's Claw tribe, led by Sejuani the Winter's Wrath, who openly hated Ashe and would likely take the opportunity to kill her if she was caught trespassing on her lands.
So they needed to move quickly. Ashe cast her gaze up to the sky to discern her direction. To the west of her location was the capitol of Freljord, which meant that if memory served her right, there was a trail a trail near by that led north to a more stable land bridge. All sorts of game animals and even humans used said land bridge to cross the canyon safely.
With this plan in mind, she led Tollo away from the cliff and into the dense black wood forest in search of the trail and with any luck, her way home. Thankfully it did not take them long to find the narrow path. When they did, Ashe checked over Tollo's legs for any injuries, upon finding none, she mounted up and guided her horse at a steady trot as the sky began to grow dark.
As they traveled and twilight came the storm began to surge again and it once again became nearly impossible to see past the snow. For what felt like hours they carefully picked their way down the trail at a slow and steady pace. The horse trudged his way through the snow and Ashe's unfamiliarity with the terrain and area was not helping in the least.
After what seemed like hours of riding, the trail began to wind down around a rocky outcropping into a small valley. Here the canopy of interwoven branches sheltered the small clearing that they found themselves in from the snow. The archer and her steed both shook off the layer of snow that coated them before they both took a look around them. The clearing was dark, but somehow it felt peaceful. There was a magic in the air that soothed their souls and calmed their minds. Ashe's eyes where drawn to the wider trail that lead away from the clearing. It was sheltered like the clearing, making it seem almost like a hallway of trees.
Tollo pawed the ground impatiently and tossed his head in the direction of the trail.
" I agree Tollo, we may have better luck this way, but let's be careful." Ashe said in a soft tone while stroking the horse's mane to calm him. She could tell that he was just as stressed about this situation as she was. But with no other way to go than forward, they pressed on.
Slowly they made their way forward, Ashe kept her eyes on her horse's ears as they twitched back and forth and he occasionally turned his head to look at something. The wall the of trees made the archer feel slightly safer and if Tollo was not afraid then she knew that they where ok here.
Eventually the trail led them farther down into another wide valley that opened up to reveal a large ancient looking stone bridge that across a large crevas in the mountain side. At the end of the bridge sat a a dark building shrouded in shadows centered between two jagged cliff faces. Judging by the decay of the stones and statues that sat upon the ledges it appeared to be an ancient temple that had been long forgotten.
" Well Tollo, maybe we can at least find some shelter there and move on in the morning." Ashe said while she squeezed to urge the horse forward.
The ominous echo of Tollo's hooves on the black stone bridge gave the Frost Archer a small chill down her spine as it reminded her of just how alone and lost they where out here. But hopefully this place would provide them some cover. If it was in fact abandoned as she guessed.
A slight tug on the reigns brought her steed to a halt at the top of the stone steps of what she could now tell was a temple of some kind. Her eyes wandered up to get a full look at the gigantic double doors that where big enough that a small warship would be able to fit through with no trouble. So it was clear that they were not getting in that way, since it appeared as though it would take nearly ten men on each side to open the great golden doors.
Nimbly Ashe hopped down from the saddle and took a moment to let her legs adjust to standing on solid ground again. They where cold and stiff from her hours of riding, at least six judging by where the sun had been when they began their trek, and where the moon now sat in the sky.
Curiously she ran a gloved hand along the the door and traced her fore finger over some of the odd runic lettering on the door. It was a foreign language to her, and more than likely forgotten if it was as old as she thought it was. Ashe followed the door to it's hinges and wandered around to the side of the temple where she found a human sized door. After inspecting it a bit, she found that the door was frozen shut by a thin layer of ice.
She pressed the palm of her hand to the ice, and called upon her gifted frost abilities that hardly anyone knew much about other than her. The ice beneath her hand began to melt as she focused her magic into pulling the cold out of the ice, causing it to warm and dissolve away into liquid form and drip away from the door. But as soon as it touched the snow at her feet, it froze again into a solid sheet of ice.
Now she took ahold of the door handle, which was just as intricately carved and decorated as the main ones. It took a few hefty tugs to finally pull the wooden door open. When she did so, dust flew every where and the scent of old books, moss and rotted wood filled her nose. But she ignored this and peeked inside the place as Tollo approached behind her and nudged her with his head and attempted to look over his master's shoulder curiously.
Inside the temple was dark, save for a faint ethereal light that illuminated a large statue that sat in the center of a large shrine. Before the statue sat rows of wooden benches, and above the statue was a glass dome that she supposed would let in pleanty of sunlight if it where day time and not covered in snow. However the place looked to be completely forsaken as she had hoped it would be.
Ashe crept inside and helped Tollo squeeze his way through the door. Once inside she closed the door behind them to preserve what little warmth the temple provided, which did not feel like much. But thankfully Ashe was not as affected by it like most humans due to her frost affinity and being raised in her mountain home land.
Cautiously they made their way closer to the statue and could now see that the light was not only other worldly, but was generated by a pair of sapphire gems that made up the eyes of the golden dragon statue that stared back at them.
A soft breath fell from the Frost Archer's lips as she gazed up into the dragon's eyes. When she did her head began to swim and no matter how much she tried, she could not look away. She just stood, locked in a staring contest with the statue.
Vivid memories began to flash through her mind. They where of her tribal battle, where she was leading a squadron of elite archers, her closest companions, when they found themselves caught in a wintery nightmare at the end of a week-long standoff with a warring tribe.
Ashe had gone unconscious sometime during the battle and when she awoke, she found herself surrounded by the mangled corpses of friends and foe alike. The scholars and mages had told her that it was divine providence that had spared her from the whirling shards of ice, and it had turned her hair the color of the arctic tundra. It was after that day, that Ashe had vowed to never again wear the traditional Freljord White Garments of Victory.
But here, new visions invaded her mind. Images of a mighty golden dragon with the same bone chilling sapphire eyes as the one she stood before now. The dragon became a blurry haze in her mind as it beat it's massive wings and spoke to her as she lay on the snow bank that day frozen and waiting for death. She vaguely remembered it now, and the words that the dragon had spoken to her now whispered in her mind and began to chant and grow louder with each repetition.
The language was foreign to her at the time, but for some reason, she understood them perfectly now.
Kula'as Fron, Fo Dovah.
The chanting grew louder, both in her mind and around her until it drowned out every thought and even the frightened whinnies of her horse. A magical whirlwind swelled up around Ashe's feet and grew along with the noise of the melodically chanting words, until the menacing icy eyes of the dragon sparkled and blinded her with a brilliant white light that forced the woman to close her eyes.
Instinctively she reached for Tollo's reigns to steady herself as the strange wind howled around her violently and the chanting came to an abrupt halt. Everything around them became deadly silent. Save for one word.
The smokey image of the dragon faded from her mind and when it did so, the Frost Archer opened her eyes, and was greeted by the sight of an expansive open field of wheat colored grass, and the chaotic scene of soldiers running to and fro before her around a tall, lone watch tower.
Ashe looked around frantically, attempting to make sense of it all, but she was given no time to do so as an enormous dragon swooped down before her eyes and breathed a stream a fire down on the soldiers who fired volleys of arrows at the beast.
Tollo reared in fright, and Ashe gave him to command to run to safety if he could. He did so after Ashe released her hold on his reigns and galloped away from the fight.
Without hesitation Ashe drew her bow and notched an arrow. Keeping it trained on the dragon that now circled the watch tower. When it emerged from the side of the tower, Ashe released her arrow and it struck true into the neck of the flying the monster ignored the measly little projectile and continued with it's attack. With a single beat of it's wings it flew up into the air and then swooped down over the field of soldiers, breathing a stream of flames that set the ground on fire. The smell of burning flesh and grass filled the air as smoke billowed up from the bodies of the screaming soldiers who fell to the ground in agony.
The Frost Archer pulled another arrow from her quiver and this time called upon her frost abilities and focused all of her energy into her single arrow as the dragon began to circle the battlefield once more.
This time, it swooped down low from above the tower with it's belly exposed to her. Ashe let her arrow fly and it grew in size until it was encased in a shell of shimmering frost and slammed into the soft underbelly of the dragon. It lurched in the air but kept it's flight while the frost began to creep over it's scales and freeze it's body solid. This apparently got it's attention since it paused in mid flight and cast it's fearsome gaze down on the archer. It flapped it's wings violently in efforts to stay in the air as it roared loudly in challenge to the archer and raised it's head preparing to breath a rain of fire down on her.
Quickly Ashe readied her arrow. Remembering a practiced tactic that she used frequently against the dragon that dwelled on the battle ground of Summoner's Rift. As the dragon opened it's tooth filled maw to breath it's fire, Ashe let her arrow fly and the dragon lurched violently and crashed to the ground when it was suddenly chocked by the projectile being lodged into it's throat.
With the beast now downed and distracted, the soldiers rushed in and proceeded to beat on the creature with a wide array of weapons. Knowing that the fight was not over, Ashe did a quick scan of her surroundings and spied a large pile of rocks near to her. Nimbly she climbed the rocks and found that it was a perfect vantage point. Waisting no time, the master archer pulled five arrows from her quiver and fired off one of her famed volleys that had successfully taken down soldiers and beasts alike.
Each arrow struck into the dragon's hide, penetrating it's armored back easily. It roared and squirmed on the ground. Flapping it's wings violently and snapping at the soldier's around it. Even batting one of them halfway across the field with it's tail. Another volley ensured the dragon's death. But in it's final moments, it locked it's emerald eyes with those of the Frost Archer and opened it's mouth to breath it's final stream of fire in her direction.
Expecting this from the creature Ashe simply spun on her heel and jumped down from the top of the rocks and rolled to break her fall at the bottom. The fire blasted the rocks and licked around the sides of it, leaving blackened scorch marks where the archer had stood. It set the grass ablaze, but Ashe luckily remained unscathed by the attack.
Sounds of pain filled the air along with an earth rattling thud from the dragon toppling over. Knowing it was safe now the lost archer stepped out from behind the rocks and jogged over to the carcass. When she reached it, the scales and flesh began to melt away in molten flames, leaving behind a bare skeleton of what once was a mighty and powerful beast.
As it deteriorated, a magical feeling washed over Ashe as the wind and very air around her began to distort and glow as tiny infinitesimal threads wrapped themselves around her. Her skin tingled and she felt warm and somehow at peace while the magic blended with her very soul. In her mind, the same haunting voice as the one in the temple whispered : Fus
Just as quickly as it had all happened, the magic faded away and left the Frost Archer standing amongst a crowd of soldiers who all wore expressions of awe on their faces. An older looking woman wearing grand armor with long braided blonde hair stepped up to her cautiously.
" You." She said in a commanding tone. " Who are you?"
Ashe stood up straight, her body and still shaking slightly from the enormous amount of shock her mind and body where both in at the moment. Her voice reflected her utter confusion of the whole thing, but she did her best to sound regal and knowing as if she where addressing her people.
" My name is Ashe the Frost Archer. I come from a land called Freljord and I am far from home. I was somehow brought here from my lands through some strange magic." She explained, and the woman's eyebrows raised at the explanation. Cautiously she stepped forward and eyed the archer who was made nervous by the sudden scruteny.
" I do not necessarily care where you are from, though Freljord is no place in Skyrim or Tamriel that I have ever heard of. What matters to me is that you slayed that dragon and it appears that you absorbed it's soul. Which means that you must be one of the legendary Dragon born."
Skyrim? Tamriel? Ashe questioned in her mind, but there was a more pressing question that fell from her lips.
" Dragon born?" Ashe repeated the word with a raised eyebrow as she looked herself over, as if attempting to find any identifying marks of such things.
" It means you where born with the soul of a dragon, and dragon blood runs in your veins." The woman continued.
" What does it mean?" The archer was growing a bit impatient already, she just wanted to know where she was and how she'd gotten here. But still this idea intrigued the Frost Archer.
" It means that you are gifted with the blood of a dragon, and possibly the magical abilities of one. As well as the only one who can kill dragons. This one attacked a town to the north of here and we probably wouldn't have survived it's attack if it where not for you." The woman explained in an understanding voice, but Ashe felt as though she was hiding something. " It is said, that Dragon Born can use the way of the voice. Speak the language of dragons. Why don't you try it."
Ashe looked skeptical of this idea and thought about what the woman meant. Perhaps it had something to do with the visions she had in the temple, and the word that she had heard when she absorbed the dragon's magic.
The archer closed her eyes and focused on the word in her mind. Fus.
She repeated it several times to herself before opening her eyes and speaking the word aloud. When the first letter touched her tongue, she was overwhelmed by the instinct to shout the word, and so she did. " FUS!"
Suddenly the air around her shifted and the soldier who stood in front of her was knocked backwards by a sudden gust of wind.
" You did it! You used the voice!" The armored woman said with raised eyebrows and wide eyes.
" What is this voice?" Ashe asked as she stared at her hands, not looking for anything in particular on them, but she was even more confused now than ever. Suddenly everything had been turned upside down. This morning she had been listening to the needs of her people, and a simple scouting mission had gone awry. Now...here she was...in this strange new place, fighting a dragon, and now people where call her dragon born...what could it all mean?
The soldier woman interrupted her thoughts, and Ashe only stared at her blankly, her mind hardly capable processing anything more.
" My name is Delphine, I am a member of the Blades. I can help you with all of this. But first I must ask you to go and speak to the Jarl of Whiterun. He must know what transpired here."
"What? What is so important about this that you cant just tell me what in the hell is going on here?"
The woman moved closer to Ashe with a deadly serious look in her eye that the archer returned with a dark glare, showing her irritation at this whole blasted thing.
" It is not wise to speak of such things here, once you have spoken to the Jarl, please come and meet me in Riverwood, it is safe to talk there and I can try and explain things better to help you." Delphine said quietly so that the soldiers bustling about could not overhear them.
Ashe opened her mouth to speak, but then simply nodded to the woman. Satisfied with this,Delphine turned away and began to walk down the large hill to look over her wounded soldiers after speaking one final thing over her shoulder. " I will see you in Riverwood, until then, watch the skies traveler."
Ashe nodded and watched the woman wander away before looking away and down at her hands where she still held her legendary frost bow, and her mind wandered for a few moments. Considering her options, she could either attempt to find a way home herself, or she could go along with this woman's orders. All this talk of being a dragon born and her new found abilities, on top of the visions she saw when she was in the abandoned temple had her intrigued. But she had a duty to her people. As queen it was her job to make sure that they survived the winter months. It was a tough choice, and neither of them was an obvious choice.
What if this new found power could aid her in leading her people. Certainly if she could find out more about it, and learned to control it, she might have a way to protect her subjects in a time a need or war. But she knew that the only way to find out would be to fulfill Delphine's orders and pursue this information. Ashe looked up and away from her bow as she thought taking in the sights and smells of her surroundings. As far as she could see was a field covered in the brown colored grass, but off in the far distance all around her Ashe could see mountain ranges surrounding this entire valley-like area. It appeared to be winter time here with the slight patches of snow and the chilly wind that swept over her every so often. She was not entirely sure how long she stood there, staring across the wide rocky plains, but the sun had moved quite a bit in that time. Thankfully none of the soldiers bothered her, they just went about her business, but some of them did give her a quizzical look.
Finally her mind was made up. With no clear way home, and new found abilities that could greatly aid her people in the future years of her reign over Freljord, she decided to investigate and persue this power that had been granted to her. Perhaps also along the way, someone or something would show her the way back home.
Raising two fingers to her lips, Ashe blew out a high pitched whistle, and only a moment later the rythmic sound of cantering horse hooves could be heard as Tollo made his way to her from around the side of the crumbling watch tower.
The horse trotted up to her, making a series of whinnies and snorts as he excitedly swished his tail back and forth. Communicating that he was indeed perfectly unharmed from the ordeal, and this made his owner smile at the relief that her trusted companion had made it through. If there was one thing that made her happy now, it was the thought that despite being lost, she was not alone in this strange world.
Ashe quickly set her foot in the stirrup of Tollo's saddle and pulled herself up onto the tall stallion's back. After gathering the reigns she took a quick glance around her and finally spotted a walled city only about two miles away from them. She guessed that the city was Whiterun, and if it wasn't perhaps there was someone there who could tell her how to find it.
Wasting no time, Ashe spurred Tollo forward and the two of them made the short trek across the rough terrain toward the city that would change her life forever...
Thank you to all who read this, please be sure to leave me a review and tell me what you thought. There is definatly more to come. :)
I do not own TES: Skyrim or League of Legends. I do try my best to stay true to the lore and cannon of both games, if I do change something, be sure to read my notes as to why.