The Outlawed Hero- Chapter 4

  • Chapter 4

    Three conical, stone pillars stood around me, as the sun's rays glimmered on the lake ahead. The standing stones. Carved into each, from left to right, were pictures of 3 different men. A thief, a mage and a warrior. If I prayed to one of the stones, I would be granted a greater prowess in the stone's corresponding skills. Almost without thought, I strode over to the pillar depicting the warrior, knelt and offered my prayer. Walking away from the stones afterwards, I only hoped the gods had answered the prayer. 

    As smoke lazily spiralled out of the chimneys of the houses, I trudged, exhausted, through the gates of Riverwood. It was large, for a village. At first glance I noticed an inn, it's worn sign creaking quietly in the breeze. As well as this, a small trader's shop sat neighboring a cottage, opposite Gerdur's mill. By the time I found Gerdur, Ralof seemed to of already been talking for a while, judging by his sister's shocked, but interested, face. When Ralof realised I'd arrived, he said to Gerdur,

    "Ah, here's Na'jar now, so you did decide to follow me!" he seemed relieved that I hadn't left, although Gerdur's face was now slightly surprised. "Don't just stand there, come over here and fill us in, how did you come to Skyrim? You never told me." Almost reluctantly, I took a seat on a tree stump, my back to the cobbled stone mill.

    "Well," I began, and soon after I had filled them in on my troubled past in Elsweyr. They listened intently, curious of this foreigner from the deserts and jungles down in the south. Finally, Gerdur asked, 

    "But how did you end up in Skyrim?"

    "After this one escaped the Thalmor's outpost, he joined up with a trading caravan. For someone skilled in any form of combat, guarding the merchants is a great way to earn some coin, and see the world." I left out the part where, before I joined the caravan, I tracked down the Thalmor leader and murdered him. They didn't need to hear that. "We travelled to Cyrodiil, and for a time just journeyed around the country, trading where we could. I slowly began making a name for myself in the inns and taverns we stopped in. They called me Ironclaw, for all the brawls I won. A while ago, I heard of the troubles hear in Skyrim. A civil war was brewing, the other travellers said. Skyrim wasn't safe, a good place for mercenaries and the like." When I heard that, I knew I had a new road to travel. My combat and magical skills would allow me the privilege to sell myself on as a spellsword. That would pay a lot more than guarding a caravan. A few weeks later, I'd packed my bags and set off for the harsh climates of Skyrim. "Only a day after reaching the border, I was captured, along with Ralof and the Stormcloaks." I finished. Afterwards, conversation continued to the events of the attack on Helgen, and Gerdur's face took on an even more shocked visage.

    Later on that day, after we'd finished recounting our tale of the escape from Helgen, Gerdur welcomed me to some of her supplies, which I accepted gratefully.

    "You've got to tell the Jarl of Whiterun about this dragon menace." Gerdur said to me. "Riverwood is completely undefended, and if a dragon attacks, the whole village is doomed."

    "If you just follow the path out of the next gate, you'll come into Whiterun by nightfall," Ralof said, "I have to get back to Windhelm, to find the rest of the Stormcloaks. This task is resting on you, Na'jar. Please, do what you can. And, when you're finished, come find me or Ulfric's commanders in Windhelm. We can use your help in the rebellion." After, I bid the pair goodbye, not willing to waste more daylight with idle chat.

    As I threaded my way down the path, my ears suddenly pricked up at the sound of voices.

    "...take this rebel to the headman's block, let's just hope a dragon doesn't attack it..." Imperials. I could tell by their accents, and by the rebel they were talking about. When I rounded a corner, they came into my sight. Three soldiers, lightly armoured in the standard kit of the Imperial Army. In between the first and second soldiers was a Nord, all in rags, being pulled along on a rope, hands bound. They hadn't noticed me yet, but if I got closer, that would change. I'd seen the true colours of the Empire today, and I wouldn't let these men take their prisoner to a grisly fate. Drawing my bow, I ever-so-silently nocked an arrow to the string, training my shot on the most heavily armoured of the three, who was wearing a studded mail jerkin, unlike his companions. Holding my breath to steady the bow, I moved my aim up to his neck. Within a few more seconds, I let fly. The arrow struck slightly lower than I'd hoped, but it did its job. The soldier fell to the ground, blood quickly pooling around the wound in his neck. The other two spun round, the first man letting go of the rope that held the Stormcloak. He ran into the bushes and hid, arms covering his head. The men drew their swords, sharp Imperial steel, like my own stolen one, and charged. The first attacker to reach me swung his sword in a downward arc, but I dodged out of the way of the blow, and quickly severed his arm at the elbow as it stood outstretched. He went down swiftly, screaming at his lost limb. The final man tried to catch me by surprise, but I summoned fire into my off-hand, blasting him full on in the face. Despite the obvious pain, the soldier kept swinging at me, hoping to catch me with the blade in a random hit. Ending his misery, I slid my sword through his chest, pulling it out as the life spilled out of him. The Stormcloak prisoner ran up to me, after realising I was no threat to him. As he did, I stripped one of the Imperials of his armour and weapon.

    "Thank you," the Stormcloak said, but with a puzzled look on his face, "but why would a khajiit save me, when you're part of the Dominion?"

    "Khajiit is no part of those Elven invader's 'Dominion'. I fight for those I deem worthy of protection, nothing more. If you turn back and go into Riverwood, you'll find another soldier of your army, Ralof. He'll help you, but first, take these." I handed him the dead soldier's gear, and we went our separate ways.

    After rescuing the prisoner, and continuing towards the ever closer walls of Whiterun, I thought to myself. I'd never really helped a man without asking for a reward afterwards. What made this different? Had Ralof convinced me there was more motivation in life than coin and greed? I knew that, but other than coin, my only motivations had been revenge and anger. Never had I saved a man for pure righteousness. Maybe, in the back of my mind, the Stormcloak's motives meant something to me.

    The swiftly lowering sun's rays had pierced my eyes, forcing me to cover them. I had just passed a new meadery, its sign naming it the "Honningbrew". Slightly afterwards, as I neared the outer walls of the city, I crossed paths with one of the Hold guards, armoured in mail with a yellow cloth, similar to the Stormcloak's own attire, and a helmet covering his face; completing his rounds of the perimeter.

    "Watch the skies, traveller," he warned, "been strange sightings of a winged creature in the air."

    "You don't have to tell me twice." I said, leaving him confused as I wandered into the safe, but still imposing, walls of Whiterun. By the time the sun had set behind the mountains, and darkness was creeping into the sky, I reached the inner gate of the city. One of the city guards, clothed in the same way as the previous one I'd met, approached me.

    "Halt, the city's gates are closed to wanderers, what's your business here?" he asked.

    "I come from Riverwood, there was a dragon sighted flying overhead, I must speak to the Jarl immediately." That seemed to persuade him, as he let me through a few moments later, unlocking the massive wooden gateway to the city of Whiterun. Once I entered, I decided to leave exploration until the morning, as I sought out the nearest inn. All I needed now was a cup of mead and a good night's sleep.


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