Deserter - Chapter Six: Loss

  • It was during an ungodly hour that Jarl Balgruuf the Greater swept through Whiterun’s Wind District, a bitter cold numbing him to the core. Pausing at the bottom of the steps that lead to Dragonsreach, the Jarl loosened his grip on a courier’s letter that had been savagely torn apart and crushed in his clenched fist. Here, having left his quarters without anyone’s knowledge, the most powerful man in Whiterun stood at the World’s mercy, unprotected by housecarl or otherwise. Self preservation, however, was the least of the Jarl’s concerns at that moment, for an insidious, consuming force had clouded the judgement of the Hold’s esteemed leader: 


    Rage at hearing that his guard force had been massacred by an ambush. Rage at being forced by the Empire to blindly obey orders that kept his knowledge restricted. Rage, at discovering that his soldiers - his citizens - were little more than pawns, strategically placed by Castle Dour in the face of an anticipated ambush. By flickering torchlight the Jarl made his way to the doors of the Temple of Kynareth and readied a dagger concealed within his robe. Despite the magnitude of the situation, he almost laughed. Committing treason was not, after all, something an upstanding Jarl often did in his bedclothes. 



    The world was a blur. Colours. Sounds. Dizzying combinations of the two painted everything in a chaotic light. It was so much easier for the Hold Guard to slip away. Brief, fleeting consciousness had revealed to him his location - the Temple of Kynareth in Whiterun - and situation - one of utter, ruthless physical and mental torment. One glimpse at the wound in his side had been enough to send him spiralling back into eternity.


    But something brought him back. Agony beyond comprehension engulfed the Hold Guard's mind and body as he wrenched awake, and he screamed. Flesh knitted itself back together as a healing spell momentarily dulled the pain, but it all came rushing back when the magic stopped. Consciousness left him again, his thoughts coming to a reluctant rest on his memories of the battle...

    The fight out had been short and brutal. Cascades of blue-clothed soldiers had descended upon the Whiterun guard force, emerging from hiding spots in the mountain sides. When all seemed lost, however, an inexplicable surge of Imperial troops had tipped the scales back in their favour. Troops, the Guard recollected, that had not been part of the original charge. 

    Reality took its hold again, and with blurred vision the Hold Guard wearily lifted his head and surveyed his infirmary. The remainder of the Whiterun guard force, once hundreds of soldiers strong, lay bleeding on the temple's floors and beds. Fewer than twenty lives had endured. 

    '... The Thalmor Embassy does not have to explain itself to the likes of you, Balgruuf.'

    The ringing in the Guard's ears subsided, allowing him to pick up a heated conversation between two blurry figures walking within earshot. 

    'You damned elf,' seethed one, who the Hold Guard identified as the Jarl, 'those are my citizens you used as bait, you sent to their deaths-'

    'And if you don't wish to see any more gone, you'll keep quiet.' The second figure halted mid-stride and placed a menacing finger on the Jarl's chest. The Thalmor Agent smiled knowingly. 'Unless you wish to throw your precious Skyrim back into war with the Dominion.' 

    The few long seconds that followed the threat, the Guard thought, were among the most fervent of his life. First, he grimaced as his dauntless leader cowered under the threat of war. Next, he watched, furiously, helplessly, as the High Elf turned away, a sneer still on his face. Finally, a glint caught his eye, as a candlelight danced off of something sharp, and metallic in the Jarl's hand. Then he realised what it was, and smiled. 

    His consciousness ebbed, but the Hold Guard held fast to witness the glorious act of revenge. The Agent would die. The countless deaths - Kyr's death - would be avenged. The Dominion would learn of Whiterun's fury.


    But the Hold Guard's anger receded with a diving suddenness, dread taking its place. In its weakened state, Whiterun would be made an enemy of the most powerful military force in Skyrim. Wars would be fought, and lost. More young lives, like Kyr's, would be smothered needlessly. The realisation staved off the Guard's pain for the moment, and life was breathed back into his broken body. The Jarl had to be stopped. 

    He hurled himself forward, towards the figure robed in black. A flailing fist connecting with the Thalmor Agent's jaw with a wet thud, and they both crashed to the floor. The Jarl, dagger poised, frowned in confusion. Comprehension and reason seemed to hit him abruptly, and he lowered the knife unsteadily. 

    Vitality had all but left the Hold Guard's form, but his pained expression was concealed once again under the inanimate gaze of his steel helmet. The commotion had roused the nearby guards, and any who were able climbed to their feet to come to the aid of their weakening comrade. The High Elf, who had been ramming his fist frenziedly into his assailant, scurried away from the enclosing guards, his hands beginning to glow blue. 

    'Balgruuf!' he yelled unsteadily, voice tinged with fear, 'Call them off!' 

    But Jarl Balgruuf the Greater simply watched with fierce intensity before turning away. The expression on the Nord's face was one the Hold Guard understood- one encompassing defiance, sacrifice, and a quiet, contemplating anger. The Jarl swept silently out of the temple, cloak billowing in the breeze. 

    Lightning arced, and the Hold Guard was dead to the world.   

    Table of Contents

    Previous Segment | Next Segment


  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  October 25, 2015
    This is great, read all six chapters today. Your portrayal of emotions and political strife kept me riveted.
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  October 24, 2015
    No way that could happen, Fishy. 
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  October 23, 2015
    Thanks for the reassurance Sotek. Was afraid I'd lost some readers' interest during the time it took to write this thing.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  October 22, 2015
    Some great descriptions here FD. Well worth the wait.
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  October 22, 2015
    Glad I could keep you on the edge of your seat! As for the way the story's going... Do your worst, I'll never squeal! 
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  October 22, 2015
    :O I was glad to see another chapter until I remembered that poor Kyr was dead and the Hold Guard would be grieving. But this I was not expecting! Whiterun is so dead now. Will our new rebels be quelled before they've even begun, or will they make it out ...  more
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  October 22, 2015
    Raid! Glad you're still following this, and apologies for the long wait. 
  • Raid
    Raid   ·  October 22, 2015
    Part 6 wooooo!
    Man you kept us fans waiting. Great chapter as always, like Lazy pointed out, the way you portrayed the despair and anger was phenomenal, and I loved the Hold Guard's reaction - his devotion is such that even now he will still defend ...  more
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  October 22, 2015
    Gosh, Lazy, I don't deserve such high praise. Your own writing far surpasses mine!

    And Lissette, thanks for the history lesson, professor : P This is interesting information though. Should definitely help in future.
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 22, 2015
    This chapter gave me the chills. The despair was so real, with such simplicity it's scary. You are the writer I aspire to be, FishDout.