The Outlawed Hero- Chapter 5

  • Chapter 5

    The sun was just rising lazily as I stepped out of the Bannered Mare in Whiterun. The rest of the city was starting to rise too, I noticed, when I observed a wood elf setting up his stall in the local market. Before I talked to the Jarl, I would sell off some of my goods, I decided, glancing at a sign indicating a general store. Notifying the Jarl of this dragon threat was important, but there was still time.

    "Everything's for sale my friend. Everything. If I had a sister, I'd sell her in a second!" A loud, gruff voice called as I entered the store. The shop owner was a Breton, his long hair tied back, and a beaming smile on his face. "Welcome to my shop! The name's Belethor. What can I interest you in today, friend?" Belethor said. After browsing his goods, and selling off a few bits and pieces I had gathered, I settled on buying supplies for the road, as well as an amulet Belethor promised me would make my attacks "stronger, faster and deadlier". The time would come when I would see whether that was true or not.

    Finally, I visited the blacksmith. Warmaiden's, it was called, although the vendor assured me they had plenty of fine gear for the opposite sex. It was a difficult decision, but in the end I decided to trade my now dented, worn Imperial cuirass for a steel chestpiece with larger, stronger pauldrons. Content with my spoils, I eventually wandered into a richer part of the city, with a large, but dying, tree acting as the centerpiece of the district. However, it was not this sight that drew my eyes, but the stone carved statue of the Hero God Talos, standing in the shadow of the looming Dragonsreach. I knew many Nords still worshipped the Ninth Divine, but to flaunt him so carelessly in the face of the Thalmor, I thought they would know better. A man, garbed in a priest's robes, stood at the foot of the statue, preaching loudly, and annoyingly, to passerbys. If the Thalmor didn't see the statue, this man's ranting would. Walking past him, I quickly ascended the winding steps up to the Jarl's keep. A guard opened the massive wooden doors of Dragonsreach, bound in iron, as I entered the hall. The warmth I felt when I passed the great firepit in the centre of the hall quickly faded as a Dunmer, leather clad and sword drawn, blocked my advance to the Jarl's throne.

    "You there, what business do you have here?" she demanded, no hint of fear in her eyes. Despite her daunting appearance, I doubted she would be able to defeat me in single combat, although I still didn't want to find out.

    "I come with urgent news for the Jarl, I must speak with him immediately." I told her, not wanting to tell her about the news. But when she stayed firmly where she was, I saw I had no choice. "A dragon has attacked Helgen!" I shouted at her, "Now get out of my way so I can talk to your leader." Without waiting for her answer, I pushed past, but she made no move to stop me. I strode up to the dais where the Jarl was seated, his attention fully focused on me now. He wore a circlet of gold inlaid with rubies on his brows, nestled in front of his long blonde hair, much like Jarl Ulfric's. This Jarl's face was slightly less stern than the Stormcloak leader's had been, however, and he wore fine clothing as opposed to Ulfric's hard worn furs.

    "You speak to Jarl Balgruuf the Greater, cat. Now tell me, how can you be sure of this 'dragon' attack?" He asked.

    "This one had a great view of it while the Imperials were about to cut off his head," I responded, catching him off guard.

    "Well, you're certainly forthright about your criminal past. But we can discuss that later. Where did it go?" Balgruuf responded, preferring to use me for information rather than locking me in a dungeon.

    "The last I saw it was flying over the mountains, to the east of Riverwood, but who knows where it is now." The Jarl pondered for a minute, while his steward and the Dunmer argued in hushed voices next to him. Then, seeming to of made up his mind, he turned to the elf.

    "Irileth," he called her, "send a detachment of guards to fortify Riverwood. I'll not stand idly by while a dragon burns my lands and slaughters my people!"

    "At once my lord." Irileth answered, before running off to assemble the troops. The steward seemed to be needed elsewhere, and he scurried away as well, leaving just me and Jarl Balgruuf.

    "Cat, what is your true name?" he said at last.

    "Na'jar the Ironclaw." I told him, but, as I thought, no hint of recognition showed on his face.

    "Na'jar, you've done a great service to me, alerting me of this dragon threat. I understand you must be weary, coming all the way from Helgen, but I believe Farengar, my court wizard, may have a task that you're capable of fulfilling for him. But before you go, see Hrongmir upstairs, he'll let you take your pick in my armoury. It's the least I can do for you right now."

    "Thank Jarl." I answered, adding the seemingly fitting grace. After a short visit to the armoury, and selecting a Dwarven forged sword, I made my way to the court wizard's quarters.

    "The Jarl has asked this one to help you with a project." I said, by way of greeting.

    "Ah yes, Na'jar, is it? There is a powerful relic hidden in Bleak Falls Barrow, near Riverwood. You may of seen the ruins as you passed through the village. As I'm very preoccupied right now, I'll need someone to go in and fetch it for me, and you may be the person I need." Farengar told me. A relic that this wizard required would no doubt be expensive, and the pay for finding it equally good. The most I could encounter in these Barrows would be some bandits, I thought. To my disdain, I was sorely wrong.

    Treading down the path back towards Riverwood, my target now revealed to me, I contemplated what the mage would need from such an artifact. A Dragonstone, he called it, said to reveal the location of the dragons that used to dominate Tamriel. Now it seemed there was only one left. While I thought of this, the ominous ruins of Bleak Falls Barrow loomed on the oncoming mountain, and I loosened my new sword in its scabbard. It seemed I would have to make good use of it, as I encountered a group of bandits in a long abandoned watch tower halfway up during my climb. However, now that I was more alert of the danger further up the mountain, I made quick work of the second party guarding the Barrow's entrance. Finally, all that was left protecting the ruins from me was its black iron gate, which I dragged open only slightly, allowing myself enough room to sneak into the ancient crypt unnoticed.

    Two bandits lay dead by a cookfire, but only one by my own hand, smoldering from my own fire. He had been kneeling over his fallen comrade, although he hadn't lived long enough for me to winkle out his friend's demise. Nevertheless I pushed on into the bowels of Bleak Falls, thinking I was prepared for anything hidden in its depths. Despite my stomach turning in knots from the damp stone walls closing in on me, I convinced myself to keep going, hoping for some open area to reveal itself to me, somewhere I could gain a brief moment of respite. So far, I'd found nothing of interest however, apart from a closed iron gate that could only be unlocked by solving an ancient Nordic puzzle. After seeing the man before me stuck with multiple poisoned arrows from incorrectly solving the puzzle, I investigated further, eventually discovering how moving 3 stone pillars to match the same inscriptions shown on the wall above me would unlock the gate. Content with myself, I moved down a spiral flight of stairs, to find myself in the primary crypts, a small maze lined with alcoves for the dead. Thankfully, the smell of corpses was somewhat drowned out by scented candles lining the walls. Curiously, I thought, they were still lit. But who would come all the way down here to light these? I wondered, proceeding down a short flight of steps into the centre of this section of the room. Sword drawn and fire in hand, I sneaked towards the next chamber, wary of new dangers in the dimly lit burial rooms. Suddenly, alerted to a sound, my black ears pricked up, hearing something in the corner behind me. A shuffling, scraping noise got louder as I stopped moving, turning slowly to face the unknown. A pair of blue orbs were staring at me, as a pale, thin body moved itself out of an alcove. It was covered in furs and leather, with an ancient sword in one hand. When it finally left the alcove, and I saw its full size, I realised it stood at just over my height, much like a Nord. A half-moan, half-hiss escaped it, and it started approaching me at a steady, shuffling pace. As it came towards me, I heard another sound from the opposite side of the chamber, as a similarly clad...thing... crawled out of its hole in the wall, and before I knew it, I was surrounded by dead men.


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