Memoirs of Larz D'Ovakine ~ The Old men of the Mountain pt.2

  • The crisp, cold morning breeze that blew off the mountain woke me from my make shift bed by the now dead fire of Darkwater Crossing. I stretched feeling my bones creak against the cold and age.

    The Miners extended their hospitality for breakfast before I climbed on Drago’s back and started my journey to Ivarstead. I made the decision to stick to the main roads leading up the massive cleft of land that formed the Rift. It was far too treacherous and infested with Bears to veer off the beaten track. The clear blue skied morning set me in good stead.

    Drago as usual made short work of the steep inclines which allowed my mind to wander and ponder my upcoming trek to the top of the Throat of the World. How would these Greybeards receive me? For one I was late coming after their summons and two how would they react if I didn’t respond in the way a Dragonborn should in this situation. It was fair to say that I had seen a fair few summers and winters. Surely it was more the job of a young hero not a widowed ex merchant.

    I was so deep in thought that it was the smell of the Birch forest that carpeted the upper plateau of the Rift that brought me back to my senses. Drago snorted as he leisurely galloped through the trees, I patted his neck finding him still full of strength after the climb. I knew he would be fine all the way to Ivarstead.

    It was Kodlak and Aela’s words that now pulled me back into contemplation. The day they came to visit me at Breezehome had convinced me to head down this path of the Dragonborn. Their words reverberated around my mind reassuring me and reinstalling lost confidence in my abilities.

    By afternoon we were thick into the forest. The occasional sounds of the wildlife of the grand forest along with the steady gallop of Drago were the only company. All the time the closer to Ivarstead we got, the more intimidating and foreboding the Throat of the World became. Occasional glimpses through the thick golden foliage of the trees helped to build my apprehension. To the point that I was glad to see the smoke rising from the buildings of Ivarstead in the distance.

    I decided to stop at the Inn in Ivarstead and have a good night’s sleep before tackling the mountain. Tying Drago up outside I headed straight to the Innkeeper.

    “Good evening, could I get a room for tonight please?” I asked him. I didn’t want to hang around the hearth swapping stories tonight I needed some peace and quiet to prepare.

    “Ah Mr D’Ovakine, A pleasure to meet you and nice to see you all the way up here in Ivarstead”. I frowned at the use of my name surely I wasn’t known all the way up here as well.

    “I’m sorry but do I know you?” I queried. To the surprise of the Innkeeper, blushing he rushed to squash my consternation.

    “No sir but I, Wilhiem, always like to keep abreast of all the comings and goings of Skyrim. I like to think of myself as a good patron. Is there anything else I could help you with? Are you here to tackle the steps to High Hrothgar? I heard the repeated summons for the Dragonborn from the clouds.” I smiled and tried to shake the uneasy feeling I got from this brief meeting.

    “Yes, but in the morning. If you don’t mind I would just like to retire and make sure I’m well rested for the climb”. I slid the coin over the bar to him.

    “Of course sir, Please if there is anything let me know”. With that I nodded an acknowledgment and headed to my room. It felt good to be in a proper bed. As pleasant as the previous night’s camping had been it had left me feeling unrested. It didn’t take long for me to drift off into slumber.

    I rose early and headed to the far end of Ivarstead where a bridge crossed the raging white water before it plummeted off the rift. Salmon leaped up the rapids trying to save themselves from the long drop. I passed two men chatting on the bridge, both smiled at me as I passed. I heard one say

    “Another pilgrim heading to the wayshrines to meditate. He’s too old to make it to the top” with a chuckle the other man shouted after me

    “Good Luck Ol’ Timer watch out for the steps!” I smiled back over my shoulder and glanced off the edge of the bridge down the falls.

    I was amazed just how high up I already was, gazing down the waterfalls I could see the geyser field and in the hazy distance Windhelm. On the other end of the bridge the first flight of stone steps curved up and away from Ivarstead. I stopped and glanced upwards.

    The wall of the mountain stretched up and seemed to lean out over me. Wisps of snow laden wind gusted over ledges far up the expanse of stone. I gulped down the last of my uncertainty and stepped onto the first step. Only a few strides up I noticed the first wayshrine, a small arched alcove of carved black rock, inset was an etched tablet with words inscribed. As I approached to take a closer look I felt an aura of power. Faint like when you walk into an empty room and the hair on your neck stands to attention. Peering closer I read the inscription:

    Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all of Mundus

    Their word was the voice and they spoke only for true needs

    For the voice could blot out the sky and flood the land

     As my eye’s read the last word my mind reeled up, away through time images of the land empty of life, Dragons soaring across rolling mountains, bending the very earth, water and sky to their whims. In a rush that Black Dragon appeared maw agape ripping the sky apart raining down fire like back at Helgen. In a similar rush I was back in my body staggering backwards from the etching. I held a hand to head as my brain processed the influx of images and feelings. As I came round I glanced nervously over each shoulder, the two men still stood talking on the bridge, the fish still leapt upstream oblivious to my experience. Shaking myself free I continued up the stairs. Twisting with the rock face the trees lining the sheer slopes quickly thinned out as snow started to cover the ground.

     On the next turn I found the second wayshrine, I paused stopping a few steps back from it before urging myself to read the ancient text carved into the tablet:

    Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus

    The Dragons presided over the crawling masses

    Men were weak then and had no voice

     Like before no sooner had I finished the text I was whisked away, throngs of men were hunting the beasts of the land, camps, villages, towns rapidly sprouting from the plains and again Dragons soaring sending the men running in chaos. Feeding, blood and fire engulfed the masses. Man, women and child was all victim to this long gone frenzy. I tasted the blood and felt the power of the Dragons form and shouts.

     Then I was back on the mountainside, stumbling back and leaning onto the wayshrine to support myself as I came back to the world.

     It couldn’t be a coincidence that I was experiencing these visions, so similar to when I killed one of those great beasts. To compound things further after each vision it seemed to empower me with more strength and energy to tackle my stoney ladder to the top of the mountain. I have to admit my old hip injury was already starting to smart with the constant, repetitive climbing of the stairs. To add to my discomfort I was now high enough that the elements began to creep in closer. The clouds seemed to strip the once golden valley of birch into shadows of land masses spotted with mirror like snakes of rivers and lakes. To my dismay a cold piercing rain began to fall. The trees were few and far between and the ground blanketed with drifts of snow.

     Approaching the third wayshrine the wind seemed to freeze my armour to my sweaty flesh. Rather than be wary of the next influx of images and feeling I welcomed it. The mountain was taking its toll on my old bones:

     The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old times

    Unafraid to war with Dragons and their voices

    But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts

     Scenes of legions of men, gleaming in armour and pikes marched on the mountain tops of Mundus. Unrelenting they tried to slay their Dragon foes. The Heroes of Old emboldening their men to tackle the great beasts only to be burnt and shocked off the mountain as the Dragons flamed and shouted without any love for Man. Great pyres burnt for the many lost and tears streamed down the faces of the less worthy that had to send their saviours onto Sovengarde.

     The rush of energy empowered me but quickly ebbed away as I continued to tackle the relentless stairs. I was now in the clouds, the temperature had been rapidly stripped from the bare rock and snow I seemed to only have enough strength to get me to the next wayshrine. The stairs had started to not only go up the mountainside but now meandered down slopes to gain access to the next flight that rose. The change in  direction made my legs burn and as I headed down towards the fourth wayshrine I stumbled on the icy stone and fell the full flight, armour clattering of rock and bone resulting in me face down in the snow at the bottom.

     It took me a few moments to gather myself up. I practically crawled onto the fourth wayshrine:

     Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man

    Together they taught Men to use their voice

    Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue

     A bright light gleaming, the image of an ethereal woman descended onto the top of the peak of the world and entreated a massive Dragon. Heroes bent knee and lowered heads as they absorbed the knowledge and power. Before the mountain crumbled and fell into carnage of battle. Men and Dragon shouted, fell and died in a ceaseless rush of battle.

     The path to the top seemed to level out a little and I was forced to take on a couple of frost trolls in an overhang of rock to one side of the fifth wayshrine. I was starting to lose grip on the world around me and I watched the battle as if not in control of my own actions. My breathed formed frost on my beard and my skin was stinging in the cold bitter wind. The trolls lay on the ground dead and I took refuge under the overhang trying my best to stay hidden from the wind whilst I ate. Feeling somewhat revitalised I read over the fifth wayshrine:

     Man prevailed shouting Alduin out of the World

    Proving for all that their voice too was strong

    Although their sacrifices were many – fold

     That Black Dragon seemingly on its own on the top of a peak plummeted to the snow as men surrounded its hulk. Seething and bleeding the men’s shouts beat it back and in a flash he was gone. The heroes of old stood rejoicing on a mound of skulls of both Men and Dragon. Only man remained the Dragons recoiled to the Sky, Earth and Sea.

     Back in the swirling snow my mind leapt at the realisation that the black Dragon from the last wayshrine was the same as the one at Helgen. So he was Alduin? But if he was defeated how was it that he was back? I reeled at the meaning and lost all clarity. But seemingly I managed to carry on climbing in a blur of wind, snow, Dragons and ancient men. The past and present mixing into one as I slowly clawed my way up the stone stairway. I had moments of clarity where the clouds broke apart and I caught sight of the mountains of Skyrim poking up from below. By the time I reached the ninth and tenth wayshrines the ominous shadow of High Hrothgar sat perched on the mountain.

     The ancient black stone temple stood sturdy on the rock. High thin windows and a set of dual curving stair cases seemed to embrace me to the doors of High Hrothgar. Pushing on the large, engraved bronze doors I entered. Warmth and the smell of incense blasted me in the face. My aching cold bones and swirling mind seemed to instantly clarify and the memory of the horrid climb was momentarily banished as I was renewed by the atmosphere of the temple.

     I walked in past a massive shrine, tiered with candles into a central open space. Carvings adorned the walls and floor and stairs led away on the far side up to another set of bronze doors. Bright light shone down in shafts from the ceiling lighting up the central space. Tattered banners of the same script I found on those dragon walls fluttered in the fresh breeze circulating the chamber. As I stepped into the light in the middle of the large space an old man in hooded decaying grey robes appeared out of the shadows. Hands hidden in the folds of his sleeves, head dipped hiding his face, his long grey beard was the only recognisable feature. He stopped in front of me

     “So the Dragonborn arrives? I am Master Arngier of the Greybeards of High Hrothgar. I welcome you to our temple of the voice”. Still with his face hidden he stood like a statue. I glanced left and right noticing three other similar effigies in grey robes stood around us in the shadows.

     “How do you know that I’m the Dragonborn?” I asked feeling like a young boy stood in front of his peers ready for a scolding.

     “That is what we are going to find out, Dragonborn, Please let us hear your voice”. I frowned in puzzlement.

     “What you want me to use that shout? I don’t want to cause any harm?” Arngier lifted his head so that I saw his eyes for the first time and simply uttered

     “Please Dragonborn go ahead. Do not worry.” With that I shrugged and glanced to the three other monks who still hadn’t moved.

    I cleared my throat and almost automatically without thinking I let the shout go


     The air rushed out visibly rippling battering into Arngier tearing fragments of his tattered robe away and shattering a collection of pots and vases stacked behind him.

     “Ah yes, excellent. You are truly powerful and definitely of the Dragon blood” Arngier nodded with a smile. His comrades all nodding and muttering their monosyllabic agreement.

     “But what does that mean?” I queried

     “It means that you are born of the Dragons blood. You have the same ability Dragons do to absorb the souls and knowledge of their foes. It is a gift bestowed by Akatosh to very few. The last Dragonborn was Tiber Septim. We have waited many years to welcome you here and help you with your training.” All the monks then nodded and bowed in agreement.

     “What training?” I still felt lost.

     “We will guide you in the Way of the Voice Dragonborn. But, it will be your actions and decisions that decide your fate” I shook my head in confusion.

     “So have the Dragons reappearing got something to do with me being Dragonborn?” I asked trying to get some sort of clarification.

     “The likelihood is high Dragonborn. It isn’t a random accident that we have sensed your power at this time. Your fate might be entwined with our Dragon brothers. But please do not worry about that for the moment. We must help you with your training. Understanding will follow. Please come with us my fellows Einarth, Borri and Wulfgar will further your understanding and test your abilities.”

     Over the next few hours I was taken to different parts of the temple and taught new words of power making my shout stronger and more controlled. They also told me about the Way of the Voice and how it became to be. My final task was given to me by Arngier. He asked me to retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller the founder of the temple and the Way of the Voice from his tomb, Unstengrav. Only once they had that back could they continue my training. They offered me a bed and food for the night, which I welcomed as my head was fit to bursting. I slept lightly, waking every few hours in a start as images of my arduous day settled in my subconscious.

     In the morning I was glad to step out of the temple into the brilliant blue sky. The storm of the previous day had blown away and a gentle cool breeze lifted the freshly dropped flakes of snow in a magical dance as I made my way back down the stairs. By midday I was approaching the overhang of rock next to the fifth wayshrine. I decided to have a little break in its shadow. Just as I reached the cool shade of it I heard the scream from above


     Looking up an avalanche of snow and rocks tumbled over the edge showering down and covering me. My senses returned and I was stuck, the top half of my body poking from the top of the pile. My vision blurred still all I remember seeing was the blue armour of Stormcloaks before the butt of a war hammer slammed into my temple rending me unconscious. A voice spitting contemptuously

     “Some Dragonborn!”

     I drifted into blackness.


1 Comment
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  January 31, 2013
    Lol yeah sorry bout that think this was the longest entry I have done. It just seemed to go on and on . I did think about splitting it up but it would of taken away from the ending. With the ending Im going to start a new story arc with it. I have had a p...  more