The Storm Wolf, CH. 1 as recorded by Vulkhammar

  • CH. 1: Freedom

    Author’s Note: As a caution, some material may not be suited for younger audiences or sensitive people. Violence, adult situations, foul language, gallows humor, can and will ensue.

                    Legionary life wasn’t too bad. You got paid, food and shelter were provided, plenty of time to drink, whore, and above all, fight. No, not too bad a life at all in normal circumstances. That is, until you bed one of the visiting Legate’s daughters. Then things get bad, really bad. Valdyr pondered these bits of history for over six months now in the stockade dungeon deep under Solitude.  Since boredom was the enemy of sanity, he amused himself with past exploits, whether in the field or garrison. Some he even made up, though of late truth and tall tale started to meld into legend.  But he never broke, no matter how hard it got. More than a few fellow prisoners lost their wits over time, succumbing to the routine drudgery and deprivation. For Valdyr, breaking meant admitting he committed a crime.

                 From time to time, the offended Legate along with a mean tempered prison guard came to taunt him, hoping to see him beg for forgiveness. Beatings then ensued. Valdyr never had a taste for gentile conversation, and no one ever argued his stubbornness. So the routine started. The fat piece of mammoth shit entered, wanting vindication. Valdyr would comment on his daughter’s willful lustiness. A sharp kick or crack from a club accompanied by epitaphs of fury and then, the long silence while he recovered from whatever blow happened upon him.  This happened once every few days.

                Pain became a friend of sorts. It allowed him to remember he still lived. Usually, the bruising and swelling subsided within a couple of days, though the broken ribs from yesterday left his breathing labored. At least it broke the monotony and reminded him of the legate and his daughter’s impropriety. In the darkness he would regale in the memories of her warm, sweat slicked body during that wild night in The Winking Skeever. He still grinned at those particular memories. Her perfumed hair took the place of stinking unemptied night soil buckets. Her embrace fended off the icy drafts that wound through the prison. Her cries of passion often drowned out the cries of those who lost their minds down in the darkness. The taste of her lips and other delights took the place of the watery gruel and weevil infested bread he was forced to eat. Memories burned in his mind that no one could rip away.

                 A skittering sound of claws scraping against stone broke him from his reverie. Some folk cowered at the sight of the dungeon vermin known as a Skeever. To Valdyr, it meant dinner time. Beat the shit out of that garbage they normally fed him. The furry little devil stood perhaps as tall as Valdyr’s knees. Like its entire ilk, mangy flea infested fur covered a scrawny body that ended in a whip of a tail. Needle sharp fangs hissed at him and he crouched. Beady eyes stared malevolently in the dim light. Valdyr read a bit of confusion registered by an unsure posture. Perhaps normal company cringed, but this giant crouched for a kill, like a sabre cat waiting for prey.

                Too late. Valdyr pounced at the vermin. Iron hands locked tight around it’s scrawny, greasy furred neck. Without thought, Valdyr snapped the skeever’s neck before it could squirm or react. The key to not getting scratched or bitten was always to strike so fast and with such fury that the prey had no time for any fight, or worse, escape back into the shadows.  Not this time. The nasty little beast now lay dead, it’s body still twitching. 

              Using a sharpened bone from a previous kill, Valdyr skinned the beast and cleared it’s foul smelling guts. The hide he would add to the other six he had stashed in the straw. The intestines he would try to dry out and sew the other semi cured pelts together. Not much, but they might provide some warmth later. No fire, but fresh raw meat was better than no meat.  Sure, he might catch a disease, but at this point half the food he got may drop some unholy plague into his system.  No sense in quibbling about it now.

              Half way through his meal, the cell door opened.  Torchlight stung his eyes which had accustomed themselves to darkness. Two figures entered peering at the blood encrusted face before them. Valdyr wondered what he looked like right now. He recognized one of them. Rikke, one of the Legion’s finest Nord Commanders. She had seen a thousand battles but the look of shock on her face now gave away the real state of Valdyr’s condition.

             He chuckled at the thought. Six months ago he entered clean with trimmed beard and shortened hair, Imperial Soldier style. Now, a scraggly beard and long matted hair hung across a starving blood encrusted face.

              Rikke held the torch closer. Before her sat a half-naked giant of a man, not a cowering broken soul. Gleaming eyes shot up at her in defiance. Not hatred, just defiance.   Blood smeared hands held tight onto a half-eaten raw carcass.  Rikke quickly regained her composure and stepped inside the cell.

              She looked over to the guard,” Get him cleaned up and bring him to the Commander’s room. I won’t have his stink watering the eyes of our esteemed Imperial Leadership.”

    The Guard grunted in compliance and gave a swift thumping salute as Rikke vacated the room.

    “On your feet then”, he said tiredly. “Looks like your lucky day is today.”

               Valdyr scrambled up from his crouch and dropped the bloody carcass without a second thought. No sense in worrying about what this meant.  The prospect of fresh air and sunlight drew a grin from his gaunt features.  Normally, he’d crack a joke or two, but something in the way Rikke spoke left him with too many questions. Besides, the din of clanging from other inmates drowned out any conversation. The clanging of plates, cups or anything handy signaled a farewell to any prisoner headed for the Ax. Valdyr held his head high with set jaw and no emotion. Whatever the next hours brought, the former Legionnaire would stand to with pride and not with a milk drinker’s shame.

              Once in the barracks, it took a good hour to get clean of all the grime. The legion’s barber came and gave him a standard Imperial short cut with a beard trimming. A commoner’s tunic and boots replaced the sack cloth prison garb. This didn’t feel like a trip to the square, now his curiosity was piqued. Why all the fanfare if only to send him to the Ax, or worse yet to a salt mine? Something didn’t feel right.

              As they approached the Commander’s Hall, he could hear an argument ensue between Legate Rikke and General Tullius. While no shouting took place, he could tell that Rikke, born a Nord woman strained her limits of discipline with Tullius mocking her culture. 

             “General”, she started with a tightened voice, “Do you want Elisef to remain of the throne or not? Ulfric escaped your drag net along the borders and has rallied more to his cause. The Jarls aren’t going to support her without something tangible to lend her credibility.  To them, she is nothing more than a place holder until a new High King can be chosen.”

             “Oooh, and this…ancient crown, this relic is supposed to answer all of our troubles? And before you start, yes we need Elisef on the throne to extend Imperial interests and keep Skyrim stable! But how some rotting crown will keep her here is beyond me! You Nords place too much faith in ancient traditions only to turn around and flout the very things you hold dear!”

              Tullius went back to looking over the great map of his beleaguered province. He didn’t mind commanding the mixed units of Nords and Imperials, though some of the infighting proved tiresome. The Civil War on the other hand bothered him to no end. Trying to break an ideology after the Thalmor placed their boots on the empire’s neck left a foul taste in his mouth. It only incited more Nords who normally didn’t mind Imperial rule to rally to Ulfric’s claim of freedom.

              The old General shook his head tiredly. “Go ahead Rikke, if it will help keep her claim, search for this…Horned Crown of yours.  Our scouts are reporting that your way there should be uneventful. They haven’t seen or heard of any Storm cloak influence in the area that far east.”

              Valdyr chuckled derisively.  He smiled sarcastically and chimed into the conversation. “That sir is because your scouts are foreigners and wouldn’t know a snow ball from an Ice Troll. The Storm Cloaks are out there, waiting and watching.”

               Rikke gave the Legionnaire a withering look. His out of place comment did little to introduce him as an asset.

              Tullius looked back over his shoulder with a calm fury. In all his time serving the Empire, never once had anyone questioned his strategy or his methods.

              “Either you have balls of steel or you’ve lost your mind. Care to tell me who you are that you know so much more than my best Officers and how we operate in the region?”

              Rikke knew this to be a turning point in the conversation. She needed skilled warriors but the Empire hadn’t sent reinforcements for months. Troops and supplies had dwindled to almost nothing since the last winter. The paymaster’s coffers looked more like a beggar’s pouch than the strength and reach of an Empire which she had served on numerous campaigns.  Even though Valdyr had breached a code of ethics and had a thoughtless way of speaking, she had little choice, especially on this venture. 

             “Sir, this Legionary is Valdyr, one of the candidates for this mission.  He has been with the Imperial scouts for several years and knows his way well on the back trails of Skyrim.”

              So, this was the game Valdyr thought to himself. I get a chance at freedom, but to get there go on a crazy suicidal mission. He closed his eyes. Well, better than starving in a dungeon. Well, at least I’ll have a blade, and field rations beat the hell out of prison rations.

              “Still doesn’t answer my question Rikke, though now I have a second question.. your judgement. As a matter of fact, let the youngster prove he is not a fool and speak.”

               Rikke elbowed Valdyr to answer, hoping he didn’t make a bad situation into a disaster.

              Valdyr grunted and then spoke. “It’s simple. They make themselves hard targets. Your Imperial scouts make easy targets. Unless they are trying to disguise themselves as wandering Snowberries, they can be seen miles in advance. The Nords who fight you wait in tight bottle neck passes and strike where you are weak. They don’t even have to win against you toe to toe. They only need to hit you, hurt you, and then disappear. Your scouts only see what Ulfric army wants them to see. You think the trip out east isn’t being watched? You can bet Ulfric is sending a war party out to do the exact thing that Rikke is suggesting.”

                    Tullius weighed the Nord warrior’s words. The man wasn’t as stupid as he had thought.  He hated to admit it, but the truth hurt. Ulfric really didn’t have to even win. He only had to counter and burn more of an Exhausted Empire’s resources while he and his kin lived off the land. Gold greased the wheels of war. The old man clenched his jaw, accepting what Valdyr had stated.

                    “Go then, prove to me there is something in that ancient crypt and bring it back. Do not return empty handed Soldier, unless you prefer the cold embrace of Castle Dour’s dungeons again.  Oh, I’m assigning you an Imperial physician. I hear you’ve been living in less than standard conditions. The physician should get you back to health while you are on the road. Scout well ahead of Rikke and her party so that any threats are taken care of on the road.”

                    “Well…Thanks for the assistant, but I work a whole lot better alone. Less people to worry about, better my eyes are looking for trouble Sir”, Valdyr countered hopefully.

                    Without looking up from his maps, Tullius replied, “I don’t believe this was an optional addition Legionnaire Valdyr.”

                    A Milk Drinking baby sitter to report my every move Valdyr thought. First opportunity this extra baggage would be left at the nearest Inn.  Still, best not to argue the point for now.

                    Legate Rikke turned to Valdyr, “Go get yourself kitted up. Your…assistant is waiting just outside the Hall.”

                    Valdyr smiled politely, saluted smartly and moved quickly out of the Commander’s Hall.  Things could have been better, and there was no mention of returning back on the paymaster’s roles. Perhaps later, if he returned alive he could broach the subject.  As to his…physician, that would cramp his every movement. He had no intention to escape, but he did have methods of retaining results that were not within Imperial Army standards.  Hopefully he got stuck with a doddering old half blind academic that would be easy to ditch once on the road.


  • Vulkhammar
    Vulkhammar   ·  May 26, 2016
    Thanks for the feedback all, should have another Chapter up sometime next week. I'm usually scribbling these in between breaks lol.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  May 25, 2016
    Can't wait to see who he has been lumbered with. A nice read Vulk.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  May 24, 2016
    Oh Gods! So way better! 
  • Vulkhammar
    Vulkhammar   ·  May 24, 2016
    Oh, and yes I did to a TOC on the main Story Page, hopefully it's in the right spot and did the right thing. I kept it super simple for right now as it took all my meager courage to even post this chapter lol.
  • Vulkhammar
    Vulkhammar   ·  May 24, 2016
    Yup it was a formatting issue. I tried to clean it up. Hopefully it looks correct now. Can you take a look and see if the formatting comes through right? thanks for the quick response on this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  May 24, 2016
    Some spacing issues that threw me off, but that's not you I thin, but formatting. Very nicely done. I like the imagery and your sense of description. Eating raw skeever takes guts. Curious to see where this goes. Consider also making a TOC if you haven't ...  more