Unbroken: TSoFW: Chapter One - A Mission Most Secret (on Hold)

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    Fenrir Wolfpelt tiredly slammed the greatsword down upon the straw-filled dummy that was hung up against a wooden cross. A terribly-forged wooden barrel acted as a helmet for the dummy, and it carried a shield made from randomly strewn wood hammered together. A makeshift wooden sword was grasped in it's hand. His greatsword crashed into it's bucket-helm, forging yet another dent in it, like an ugly, inverted bruise. Fenrir swung it sideways, and the sickening crunch as the sword went flying from it's loose grip, then clattered hopelessly onto the ground. Fenrir repeatedly attacked the dummy, with the same ferocity he would express in battle with any real opponenent - after all, as Galmar was fond of saying - He who sweats more in training, bleeds less in battle - Fenrir didn't completely understand the statement, but then again, he didn't have to - he just had to train. He swung his greatsword down once more, and the bucket gave way, splitting down the middle. He reined in his breathing - which he had just realised had become out of control - and sheathed his sword in the dark-blue dyed leather sheath that was strapped to his back. He gently slipped his gauntlets off, wincing as the cold metal rubbed against the bruises and grazes, courtesy of sparring. He placed the gauntlets - they weren't his, just simply on loan - on top of the small blue-blanketed outcrop of stone that served as a seat. Fenrir lifted his helmet off, and his long hair fell down, cascading down to his shoulders. His rugged face was blanketed with scars, and a shadow of hair had grown across his chin - a reminder for him to shave. He stretched his arms, and groaned happily as the warmth spread through his arms. Then, he after running his hand through his hair to clean the sweat out of it, in an effort to keep it from clinging to his forehead, he began to make his way towards the courtyard that served as a training yard and headquarters for the Stormcloaks. He strode through the winding corridors of ancient stone, fighting off the cold that accompanied the heavily falling snow. After taking a left, and then doubling around through Valunstrad - The Avenue of Valor - and strolling up the stairs that led into the courtyard. He was welcomed by the smell of woodfires, alongside the clashing and clanging sounds that signified the sparring that went on in the large court. Men wearing the simply padded armor with a blue sash draped over of the Stormcloaks stood around, swords in hands. Some were locked in combat with their fellows, sparks flying as steel rang against steel, and others stood over anvils, forging molten steel with small hammers. Others simply stood around, chatting with their fellows. Fenrir scanned the area, looking for Henrik Iron-Skull - so named for his notoriously thick skull - and he located his friend. Henrik stood with his helmet off, revealing his short, red hair. He was leaning against a wall, chatting up a female Stormcloak Fenrir didn't know. Fenrir strode over, deliberately swaggering so as to annoy Henrik. He walked over, and shoved Henrik with his hand, but not aggressively, but jokingly. Henrik almost jumped - he hadn't known Fenrir was around. The woman had long, dark hair, and piercing black eyes. She looked accusingly at Henrik. 
    'Who's this, Henrik? I thought you said you were free for the next hour.' Her tone was spiteful, and her eyes glinted angrily. 
    Henrik wrangled for an excuse, but Fenrir was first. 'He's not, sorry. He's got training right now, actually. Galmar's orders.' The woman groaned, and then strode off angrily. Henrik looked at Fenrir, his eyes filled with annoyance.  
    'What was that for, Fenrir? You know I don't got nothing on today!' Fenrir grinned. 
    'I know that. I just wanted to annoy you,' Fenir took a look at Henrik and added, 'I achieved that, as well.' Henrik growled. 
    'Don't do that again, Fenrir. It took me ages convince Frea to come with me!' Henrik complained. Fenrir grinned happily, prompting an annoyed grimace from Henrik. Fenrir simply shrugged. 
    'Fair enough. Either way, you wanna head to Candlehearth for a meal? I'm almost dying of hunger. Galmar's had me training all morning.' 
    Henrik nodded reluctantly. 'I guess, yeah.' 
    And so off they headed, towards Candlehearth Hall. 

     

     

    They arrived outside the stonebuilt tavern. Flames roared from braziers of bronze that had been built outside of the hall. They melted the snow before it could touch the hungry embers of the braziers, almost turning the heavy white snow into rain upon contact with the heat. Fenrir walked up, and pushed the heavyset bronze door open. The welcoming smell of roasted beef wafted into Fenrir's nose, and he could feel, as well as hear, his stomach growl. Henrik grinned, acknowledging the noise. 
    'What, you keeping bears under that armor?' Fenrir couldn't even be bothered to bite back, and simply continued to walk into the hall. His feet echoed slightly on the wooden floorboards. He strode in front of the bar on the first floor. A woman in a plain red dress with short, face-framing blonde hair. Her face was tired-looking, but her eyes sparkled with happiness. Everyone in Windhelm knew Elda had a passion unlike any other for keeping and tending Candlehearth - it was why it was such a special place, after all. Fenrir smiled at Elda, prompting a smile from her. 
    'What'll it be, Fenrir?' She knew everyone in Windhelm by name, he was sure of. He had never seen her stuck for a name. 
    Fenrir pretended to decide what to have - Elda knew what he wanted. 'I'll have ... a tankard of Honingbrew Mead,' he looked at Henrik, who nodded encourangingly at him, 'And Henrik wants one tankard of Black-Briar - he'll pay for it himself.' Henrik gasped, and then grimaced darkly. Fenrir knew how much more expensive Black-Briar mead was. He took another look at Henrik's face, and then tapped Elda's shoulder, 'Make that two Honingbrew, please.' Elda simply shrugged, and reached behind her for two metal cups. She reached under the bar and pulled out a jug filled with a pleasantly clear liquid. She popped the cork, and poured it into the two tankards. She proceeded to place them on the bar, and forked her hand out. He fished around in my pocket, and placed twenty-four golden septims into her upturned palm. She smiled happily, and handed Fenrir the two tankards. Fenrir grabbed them, and placed one in Henrik's hand. He thanked Fenrir, all traces of his anger gone. 
    'Shall we head up?' Henrik nodded, sipping his mead. He grinned carelessly when the delicious liquid sloshed down his throat. 
    'Good stuff, this Honingbrew Mead.' Henrik added - Fenrir agreed. I pointed upwards, where a large wooden set of stairs led up to the second floor - the main floor of the inn. Henrik began to ascend, his heavy iron boots echoing against the well-made wood. Fenrir followed him, and they climbed the flight of stairs, heading into the second floor - the real tavern in Candlehearth, due to the fact that the second floor mainly consisted of beds and the kitchens, where Nils worked. Fenrir surveyed the second floor. A large stone hearth was built in the middle of the room, and flames licked the cobbled grey roof of the furnace, providing warmth for the entire room - after all, the hearth was how it got it's name - and candles were built into the walls of the hall, lighting the area with a crispy golden light. Tables were placed systematically around the room, so that everyone felt the same warmth from the hearth. Men and women, most dressed in plainclothes - one or two wore the armor of the Stormcloaks, and a man in the corner wore simple steel armor - probably a mercenary. 
    'Over there.' Fenrir pointed towards a table in the corner of the room. Henrik nodded, and the two of them headed over. He pulled his seat out, and Henrik did the same. They placed their tankards down on the table, and a young woman - almost a girl, still - dressed in a pretty dress walked over. She carried a platter filled with little slabs of meat - a specialty of Candlehearth Hall that Nils, the chef, called nuggets - they were simple slices of chicken fried, and then baked. Fenrir didn't know the woman, but she was probably just one of Elda's new maids - after all, Susanna had been murdered by the Butcher not two nights ago - Windhelm's latest gossip, as well as the source of most of the town's night terrors. The woman - girl - smiled pleasantly. 
    'Care to buy anything?' Her voice was quiet, but kind. Fenrir looked at Henrik, and he shrugged. 
    'We'll take six nuggets each.' She nodded, and slid three nuggets onto metal plates, which she then placed on our table. They looked delicious - one of the reasons Candlehearth Hall was the premiere inn in the entire hold of Eastmarch. I handed the woman eleven septims, which she gratefully accepted. She smiled, and then walked off. We didn't see her again, so she probably ended her shift. A rumble rippled through my stomach again, and this time, I had something to quench the hunger. I grabbed one of the little nuggets, and began to eat. 

     

     

    Fenrir grinned happily as the delicious chunk of chicken erupted into flavour in his mouth. The look on Henrik's face proved that he too, felt the same. Fenrir proceeded to simultaneously stuff the other two nuggets into his throat, and then quickly eat them. He made a mental note to commend Nils, and maybe chuck him some septims, and then dismissed the idea - due to his popular cooking, Nils was one of the most paid men in Windhelm - excluding Torbjorn Shatter-Shield and the Cruel-Seas. He almost whimpered when he realised there wasn't anymore chicken, and was angered he hadn't bought more when he had the opportunity. Henrik spoke up, his voice cutting through the noisy atmosphere of Candlehearth Hall. 
    'Hey.' Fenrir looked at Henrik, curious. 
    'Yeah, what do you want?' Fenrir asked, flatly saying it. 
    'What're your plans, y'know, after,' he gestured randomly around with his hands, 'It's all done? The civil war? Once Ulfric ascends to the throne of High King - or, if his head ends up on a pike?' He was plain curious, but Fenrir couldn't help but notice that his tone and statement was borderline treasonous - Galmar despised anyone mentioning the slight possibility of Ulfric's defeat. Fenrir didn't know whether he'd win or not. 
    'I don't know. Don't know. You know what I mean? When it's all over, I hope I can retire to that nice little cabin you know I've always had my eye on - Routa.' 
    Henrik grinned. Everyone knew how much Fenrir pined for Routa, the little cabin near the stables. 'I guess, yeah.' 
    Fenrir smiled slowly then. 'But to be honest, I'll probably end up forgotten, bleeding out on some battlefield. Probably.' 
    Henrik looked sad, now. He knew we'd probably die in the war - but we both believed in Ulfric's cause, and we'd lay down our lives for him. 'Yeah, that's probably right. Most likely.' He wasn't too hungry anymore. 
    'Guess it's back to training now, right?' Fenrir groaned, annoyed. Henrik was right, though. If they didn't get back to training soon, Galmar'd have them flayed. 
    'Yeah, I guess so.' Fenrir got up, stretching his hands out before him. Henrik also got up, and they grabbed their tankards, swallowing the last of the mead - they'd need the warmth when they soon began the decent walk back to the courtyard. They strode down the stairs, and when they arrived at the bar, Fenrir handed two septims to Elda. 
    'Make sure Nils gets these - those nuggets of his? - truly amazing.' Elda nodded, although Fenrir saw her slip one into her pocket. Oh well - he had tried. 
    'Shall we?' stated Henrik, pointing to the heavyset dual doors. Fenrir nodded, and the two of them made their way out, feeling the snow as it fell upon them, like a soft blanket of white. 

     

     

    Fenrir strode through the alleyways, passing the markets. The marketyard was filled with people, going about their business. Stallkeepers could be heard shouting out bargains and promises - most, of course, lies - and Angrenor Once-Honoured, the beggar, could be seen walking around hunched over, the light in his eyes long gone out. No one paid him much attention, but as Fenrir and Henrik strolled by, Fenrir chucked him a septim. 
    'Get yourself a meal, Angrenor.' The old veteran's eyes lit up happily, and he smiled as he looked at Fenrir.
    'You two are the only ones who care about an old veteran - I thank you, friends!' He then walked off, mumbling something about buying some chicken.
    Henrik looked quizzingly at Fenrir. 'Why'd you do that?' Fenrir shrugged, although he knew why he'd done it. Angrenor had fought in the Great War, and all it took was one sword through the chest, and everything he'd ever done was washed down the drain, to be forgotten. It wasn't fair, he thought solemnly.
    'I don't know.' Lied Fenrir. He did, though. He just didn't want to tell Henrik. He dismissed the thought, and blocked the sounds of men and women screaming out offers and random objects on sale - Get your swords here, only five septims! - and continued through the marketside. He briefly considered stopping near Oengul War-Anvil - the citadel's blacksmith - and getting his sword sharpened, but decided to do it himself later that day. Henrik briefly nodded at a pretty young storekeeper, but it was only brief and unimportant. We strode through to the courtyard, to be welcomed once more by the clashing of metal upon metal. Blue sashes danced in the wind, like streams of water controlled by a mage - like Wuunferth, up at the Palace. Henrik tapped him.
    'Hey, Fenrir? I'll be heading over now - I've got sparring with Haemar Sword-Arm now, so, see ya.' Fenrir nodded goodbye, and went over to the whetstone grinding wheel - which luckily, was unoccupied. He went and sat down, and placed his feet on the iron peddles. Fenrir placed his sword on the wheel, and He peddled his feet as hard as he was humanly possible, and sparks danced like wild tongues of flying light across the blade, lighting up the relatively dark sky. He enjoyed the repetitive process, and the time to simply focus and regather his thoughts was a welcome one. Suddenly, fingers touched Fenrir's shoulders. The fingers were cased in dark leather, and iron claws were sewn into the fingers. Fenrir realised who it was whose hands was on his shoulder. He turned around instantly, dropping his sword in the process as he held his fist over his chest, forming the salute of the Stormcloaks. Galmar Stone-Fist stood behind Fenrir. He wore the traditional steel plate armor of the Stormcloak Officer, with a blue sash tied around the waist, and twice on each side of his chest. He carried a huge warhammer on his back - a troll skull had been welded onto the hammer, a reminder of Galmar's first kill - the warhammer was named Foe Breaker, and struck fear in the hearts of anyone who dared oppose Ulfric's banner. He wore leather gauntlets with claws like a bear's sewn onto the fingers, allowing him to continue fighting, even if disarmed, and he wore a long, brown cloak of bearfur. A cowl made from the very head of a bear draped over his head, and on his back was a blue shield with a creamy-yellow bear insignia painted onto it - the symbol of Ulfric Stormcloak. His face was old and wrinkled, but he wore a mask of control, despite the anger that everyone knew burned behind his eyes. A light blonde beard grew untamed, and his dark eyes seemed to see through your very soul. Fenrir shivered, but held the salute. Galmar saluted, placing his fist on his chest, and then said: 
    'Put it down, son.' Fenrir dropped the salute, and Galmar continued, 'You're a good man. Your quartermaster, Njard Snow-Sword, has said that you are quite possibly the best man in his division, even.' A well of pride surged forward, and he involuntarily puffed his chest out. 'However, I'm not talking about fighting. That honour belongs to Bjarni Hammerkill - but the best combatant isn't what we need for this.' Fenrir sagged a bit, but he was still proud that he was even considered the best man in his battlement. 'Njard says that you are without a doubt, the link that holds his battlement together. He says you are capable of inspiring and leading men, unlike anyone he's ever seen. That you are kind, and the same time, you train relentlessly and constantly to the best of your effort.' Fenrir was almost overwelling with pride now, but attempted to hold it in. 'And that's why we need you. We don't need a great warrior - though, apparently, you're not a bad one either - we need someone who can be believable, as well as powerful in this role we need you for.' Fenrir's curiosity was peaked, now. 
    'Yeah?' He said, wanting to hear what was next. 
    'You're going to Whiterun.' 

     

     

    Fenrir stood inside the war-room of the Palace of the Kings. Ulfric Stormcloak stood next to him. He wore a set of the finest steel armor, forged in the Skyforge itself. The pauldrons were shaped like bears, and a great bearskin cloak like Galmar's draped from his shoulders. He had long, red hair, and a beard that was carefully trimmed. Blue sashes draped from him, and he carried Rikvard, a short axe legendary for being one of Ysgramor's notorious weapons -  it was said that any elves touched by the blade lost their will to live - and Ulfric carried it with pride. Galmar stood next to him. They were leaning over a table with a map stuck into it by many iron daggers, strategically placed over positions of strategical power. The room was small and square, made from stone. Tables were placed in the corners with sets of Stormcloak armor placed on it. Swords hung from racks in the corner. A hall ran up to the main hall of the Palace of the Kings, and an iron door led to the personal quarters of Ulfric's advisors. Ulfric looked right at Fenrir, and he couldn't help but be filled with determination. No wonder Ulfric had so many soldiers. He was a beacon of hope and power. Ulfric smiled plainly at Fenrir. 
    'You're going to Whiterun, as Galmar has no doubt told you,' this prompted a short nod from Galmar, 'We have knowledge that they've sent a Legate there, and Whiterun may become a centerpiece for the Imperial movement here. We can't have the trade capital of Skyrim under the control of those filthy dogs.' He spoke those words with an intense spite. 'We need a man on the inside, and you're the perfect one. You'll get a job as a soldier under the Imperial banner, and work yourself into an appropriate position. Hopefully, you'll hear something. Our information says that in the next few days, a force of Imperials, accompanied by a Thalmor Justiciar, as well as an unknown Legate. If you need to, sneak into Dragonsreach and see what you can find. You've been chosen for your courage and your initiative. Hopefully, if worst comes to worst, your fighting skill will prove helpful. If you find any concrete information, leave immediately or send a courier to us. If you need help with the courier, the Grey-Manes can help you out. Don't fail us. We can't have Whiterun fall to them, and at the worst, at least make it so that if their capturing Whiterun is unstoppable, then alert us before they can make a move so we can fortify the city before the Imperials and their Thalmor overlords can take it for themselves. Skyrim is counting on you, son.' Fenrir shivered, and suddenly it felt as if the entire world was weighing down upon his shoulders, and he didn't enjoy the feeling. Needless, he spoke. 
    'I thank you for giving me this honour, my Jarl. I won't let you down.' And with that, and an approving nod from Ulfric, he walked down the hall and out of the Palace of the Kings. 

     

     

    Fenrir stood outside the Windhelm Stables. Ulundil, the Altmer in charge of the Stables, stood next to a bay-coloured horse with streaks of white hair along it's body. He wore a simple brown shirt, with a green waistcoat made from plain materials. He wore leather leggings, and he had long, golden hair, and a perfect face - like every other Altmer Fenrir'd ever seen - everyone knew what the Altmer said about their superiority, but even they had to agree that the Altmer had perfect physiology. At least, Ulundil was kind - unlike the other Altmer. Ulundil smiled, and greeted Fenrir kindly. Fenrir returned the greeting, but then turned away. He wasn't here for pleasant conversation - he was on his way to Whiterun, Heart of Skyrim. He turned to the carriage. A large wooden square, the back had a large seat that was built on the platform of the wooden square. Wheels were attached to the cart's platform, and a seat was built out on the front, on which Alfariin sat. Alfariin was a tall Nord, and he wore simple green clothes, with brown leatherhide boots. He had short hair, and a long moustache. He was a kind man, and Fenrir strode over. 
    'Going somewhere, Fenrir?' Fenrir was astonished h0w many people knew him, but then again, Windhelm was a small city. Fenrir nodded. 
    'Yeah, Whiterun.' He decided not to share the details of his journey with Alfariin. Alfariin held a hand out, expecting septims. Fenrir forked twenty over - an extra one simply for kindness - and nodded to Alfariin. 'Can we head off now?' Alfariin nodded, and motioned to the back of the cart. 
    'It'll take maybe fourteen hours, so just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Hope you enjoy your stay in Whiterun, Fenrir.' Fenrir smiled, and watched Windhelm fall away as the cart began to move, and the sun shone through the cloud of snow. 

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    Your's truly, Wulf

Comments

1 Comment   |   Paws and 1 other like this.
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  August 29
    I think you've captured the atmosphere of Windhelm very well, this chapter feels really Nordic. Naming the weapons Ulfric and Galmar uses is a nice touch, as is the attention to detail of the prices of mead. A very enjoyable chapter, written in your gentl...  more