Aedric the Hunter - Chapter 13: Korvanjund

  • 29th of Last Seed 4E201

    I bid Corpulus well for his services and meals after spending what would probably be my last night in the Winking Skeever, not to mention a proper bed, for several days at least. Before leaving Solitude I picked up a set of new Imperial leathers from Beirand, the Imperials’ smith in the city, and sold the treasure I’d acquired over the past day to the merchants around town. It was still very early before I retrieved my horse from the stables for the third time, and set off back into the Karth Delta, the swampland between Solitude and Morthal. After fording the river at the same spot as the previous day, I dismounted my steed and led it slowly through the bog. I wasn’t in any hurry today, so I could meander throughout the swamp and look for some alchemy reagents – it was still over a day before Legate Rikke planned to begin the attack, and the Imperial camp near Korvanjund was barely half a days journey. The stinking bog was home to a myriad of ingredients I’d only seen in shops before – Canis Roots and these odd fungal pods. I found a more solid area of the swamp to take a rest on – the mound was crowned with a few rocks, much more comfortable than the muddy ground. But just as I approached them, these ‘rocks’ seemed to rise from the ground and begin making chittering noises. I stood confused until one of them grabbed me with its claw, cutting my ankle. Mudcrabs – how had I not noticed that? I jumped back and drew my bow to stop the two slow moving creatures. I stopped just short of the water’s edge, and fired a volley at the first crab, as my feet sunk slowly into the sludge. The arrows pierced the creature’s tough shell, and it fell with a shriek on the second shot. After the second mudcrab was slain, I pulled myself free of the mud and retrieved a few chitin segments – another useful reagent, or so I’d heard. Perhaps it would be better if I got out of this place sooner rather than later.

    After moving through an area of the swamp laden with Deathbell flowers, I came across a stench more putrid than that of my surroundings.  I couldn’t see far in the thick mist blanketing the area, but a hoarse roar gave it away. A troll came in to my field of vision, perhaps the same one I saw the previous day, as it pummelled away two mudcrabs with just as many strikes. I fired an arrow into the side of its neck as the beast’s gaze was turned on me, and it began to charge with a mighty roar. The matted fur and caked on mud made it difficult for my arrows to find purchase beneath the troll’s tough hide. A shout of “YOL!” set the fur alight, and gave me room to draw my sword as the beast recoiled. I braced the flat of the blade against a strong overhead strike, before retaliating with a series of sweeps and cuts. Although it wasn’t nearly as strong or durable as it’s white-furred cousin, its wounds healed at an alarming rate. My strong attack pressed it back with no time to recover, and eventually an opening presented itself for me to strike a killing blow. A quick cut across its face caused one last roar as its hands covered its face, at which point I thrust my sword through the chest of the beast, killing it instantly. The brown-tinged blood flowed freely from the wound, tinging the snow and water.

    I shortly found myself back at Ustengrav, where I mounted my horse and followed the northern side of the mountains towards Dawnstar. The swamp’s fog, and more thankfully smell, had cleared away within minutes of leaving it, and then sun beared down on the snowy landscape. In the clear conditions I made good time and soon turned towards Korvanjund in the south-east. I rode by a Stormcloak camp – I considered dispatching them, but there was over 20 soldiers encamped there, and who knows how many more sentries and patrols. I gave them a wide berth, before coming across a ruined fort filled with, of all things, bandits! The fort was situated in a large clearing – I’d have no camouflage or shadows to hide myself in if I wanted to be in range. I guided my horse slowly, hugging the walls, before making a break to the other side of the clearing. A few shots came but went wide, and I escaped injury. I continued eastward through the forest and spotted a small camp, of around 6 or so tents, which I soon recognised as the Imperial’s camp. The men approached me and my mount as I drew near, I spotted Hadvar amongst the men. “Let him come in,” he said. “He’s one of us.” As I dismounted, Hadvar led my horse over to where the others were. “Good to see you Aedric. I knew you’d make a proper legionnaire.” “Didn’t think I’d see you here, Hadvar. How have you been?” “I’ve been fine. Just a couple of escort missions between Imperial-controlled Holds, and then I’ve been stationed here for the last few days. A messenger arrived late last night, said that we’re assaulting Korvanjund tomorrow. Didn’t really have much other information.” “That’s why I’m here. I just took the Oath yesterday, and the Legate’s sent me straight down here. Apparently Galmar Stone-Fist, Ulfric’s chief lieutenant, has found the Jagged Crown Korvanjund. Well at least she seems to think he has, Tullius doesn’t agree.” “Aye, we’ve seen the occasional Stormcloak scout around the ruin. They’ve not come down here though, luckily. They haven’t entered the ruin yet as far as our scouts know. But enough of our mission – how have you been? I’ve heard all sorts of crazy stories!” “Well most of them are probably true, oddly enough. Turns out I’m the Dragonborn for starters – not to mention meeting a Daedric Prince in person, stopping the resurrection of Potema, meeting the Greybeards, clearing out a cave of Falmer and their pets, among other things.” “By other things you mean joining the Thieves Guild?” I realised I was still wearing the armor! “I prefer the term ‘Society of Distribution of Wealth’,” I replied. “Well I won’t hold it against you – I’ll let you go unpack your gear and get something to eat. It’s good to see you’re on our side, Aedric.” Just then one of the men spun about. “Did you say Aedric? As in Aedric, the slayer of Captain Fiiriel?” Hadvar raised an eyebrow as I looked at the man’s face. He was a light haired, shaven Breton, who was around my age. “Matthias? Is that you?”

    “Here I was thinking you died to the Thalmor in the war!” I said. “I saw them take you – what the hell happened?” A wry grin spread across Matthias’ face. “You two were in the war together?” Hadvar inquired. “Perhaps we should tell him the whole story, Aedric.” Matthias said. We sat ourselves down around the camp, and some of the men came to listen. I began our tale. “It was in the middle of 172, just after my Legion stationed in northern Hammerfell had been reinforced by men and women from High Rock.” I sent a nod in Matthias’ direction. “Our friend here joined the scouting and infiltration unit I was a part of. He was sent to make use of his detection and Illusion magic. He was pretty good at what he did, but lacked the stomach for fighting,” I said, wryly. “Hey,” Matthias replied, “says the Nord who tried to make Invisibility potions from pretty much everything we came across!” “Well at least some of them worked!” I shot back. “Anyway, it was a rare rainy night in the Alik’r desert when we’d been sent to assassinate a ranking member of the Thalmor army. We had four men – a trained Imperial assassin named Procyon, leading the mission, an Orc named Morbash who favoured the warhammer, myself and Matthias. The Thalmor were encamped around an oasis, and we approached an outcrop overlooking the camp unseen and unheard, our footsteps masked by Matthias’ magic. Procyon told us that our target, Captain Fiiriel, was in a large domed tent towards the edge of the camp. We’d found the tent close by, and there wasn’t another of the type for at least another 500 metres – we had the right one.” Matthias continued on from me. “I cast a detect life spell – it was too risky to actually go into the camp and check. There was patrols and floating magelights everywhere. We were far enough away from the camp to be in complete darkness, and the outcrop hid our silhouettes. His life-force was revealed to lie in the centre of the tent, and I relayed the information to Procyon. But just as he took aim, a spectral arrow flew out of the darkness, killing him instantly. The alarm was raised – sentries converged on our position, the target rose from his tent already dressed for battle. How they knew we were here I’ll never know. I was paralysed by one of their mages – my Breton blood didn’t help me there – and Morbash ran after me. As I was magically pulled away from our position, Aedric snatched up Procyon’s powerful bow, and fired an arrow in Fiiriel’s direction. Arrow after arrow seemed to disintegrate only a metre from his body. But then-” “I dunked my arrow in a vial of fluid Matthias didn’t seem to like much at all, but the other men didn’t seem affected by it. I could only assume it diminished magical powers, and, hoping for the best, fired it at Fiiriel. It struck right between the eyes, and I ran to help out Matthias – but he was already lost in a sea of soldiers, so I drank an invisibility potion and ran.” Matthias filled in the rest of the tale. “The Thalmor took me out of sight of the outcropping, but Morbash was still close behind. He went absolutely crazy – he must have felled at least 20 soldiers in under a minute, including my two captors. The spell had worn off and I could move again. As I went to help up the Orc, on his knees with half a dozen arrows protruding from his chest, he spoke to me. ‘Run, you fool! You cannot help me now; I have met my death in combat.’ I’d completely lost my bearings in the darkness – by the time I reached the Imperial camp we were dispatched from they had already moved on, the shifting sands covering their tracks. Eventually I found my way to Sentinel and back into High Rock, where I rejoined the Legion. I rejoined a group of reinforcements there and rejoined one of the Legions. But last I heard of you Aedric, you were dead!” “I managed to escape the slaughter at the Imperial City, and I’ve been living in Skyrim ever since.” Hadvar spoke up as we concluded the story. “That’s... quite the tale. But we better finish preparing for the assault tomorrow. Don’t want to disappoint the Legate.”

    The rest of the day and following morning was spent helping the men with their preparations and catching up on things with Matthias – I offered the quartermaster some of my hides which we used to reinforce the soldiers’ armor, in exchange for use of the alchemy workstation. I made several notable discoveries – combining Deathbell and River Betty made a potent poison which also slowed the movements of the recipient, combining the two things I found in the swamp – canis roots and fungi pods – made a paralysis poison, and a charred Skeever hide I got off the quartermaster combined with some mudcrab chitin made a very impressive potion – it cured diseases, increased my stamina, and improved my resistance to poisons. I also cleared out an animal den from which bears were attacking the camp, inside which I defeated a powerful Spriggan with orange rather than green veins, and with

    the help of the other men, slew a dragon. From it’s soul I learned the use of ‘Grah’ – combined with ‘Su’ I could make my attacks even faster.

    30th of Last Seed 4E201

    It was late morning the next day when Legate Rikke arrived with a squad of lightly armoured infantry – it was clear Tullius didn’t have much faith in this operation. She approached Matthias, who I later found out to be the commander of the small group of scouts, and asked him about the situation. “The Stormcloaks have been camped out around the entrance for about a day now. They don’t know we’re here at the moment however.” “Well, that’s something at least,” the Legate replied.  “Is everyone here? Good – we’ll move out immediately. The sooner we go the better chance we have the element of surprise.” She stood up on a hill above the rest of the men. “Listen up, Legionnaires. The Stormcloaks are here for the same reason we are – Ulfric Stormcloak wants the Jagged Crown but we’re going to get to it first. I realize some of you may know people on the other side – but remember, they are the enemy now, and will not hesitate to end your life. Now let’s show these rebels what real soldiers look like!” She drew her weapon and set off towards the ruin. Hadvar came up to me as we approached. “I don’t like the looks of this place, and I’m not talking about the Stormcloaks,” he said. “I know what you mean – almost every ruin I’ve been in is filled with some foul evil,” I replied. “Well, we’re the Emperor’s soldiers! We’ll do our duty no matter what stands in our way, right?” “You bet, Hadvar. I’m glad to have you by my side again.”

    “There’s three by the entrance and two patrolling down below,” Matthias said before the ruins were even in view. With the Legate’s permission, I crept up to the crest of the hill in front of us overlooking the ruin. Matthias’ information was accurate – they were in the positions he said. I was spotted after I felled the three men at the entrance, and the Legionnaires charged in to finish off the others. “Well done!” Rikke shouted. “Don’t underestimate the Stormcloaks. Many are Legion veterans. They may be traitors but they know how to fight. We had the advantage of surprise, but don’t expect it to last. Now let’s move out.” We entered into the ruin and Rikke held up her hand. We all dropped to our knees and crept up behind a collapsed pillar near the door, concealing us from the Stormcloaks further in to the hall. She motioned to Matthias. “What do you see?” The bluish magic pulsed from his hand and eyes, and he replied. “Two just up the stairs in front of us, two more about twenty metres behind them.” “We charge on my signal men. One, two, FOR THE EMPIRE!” She vaulted the pillar and charged at the Stormcloaks, striking one down before he could raise his weapon. I shot another down before he became obscured by the Legion soldiers and then moved up to engage them with my sword. The Legionnaires were fearsome fighters, taking the other two Stormcloaks down with ease. We regrouped on the other side of the hall and pointed to Matthias and one of the other men. “You two, guard the entrance. I don’t want any Stormcloaks taking us by surprise.” “Yes ma’am,” they replied, before we delved deeper into the ruin. After defeating two more Stormcloaks without losses we came to a narrow hallway, which appeared to be the only way to advance. “Perfect spot for an ambush,” the Legate said. “Ten to one they’re waiting for us on the other side.” One of the soldiers spoke up. “But there isn’t any other way through, Legate!” “Let’s not jump to conclusions, soldier. The Legion always finds a way.” She turned her gaze to me. “Auxiliary, see if you can find a way through. We’ll come as soon as we hear fighting.” I skulked off into the shadows, and soon found another passageway through on the mezzanine level. I downed an invisibility potion and drew my bow before emerging. It was a large room, with two raised platforms overlooking the hallway which the Legate and her troops were on the other side of. Two of the five Stormcloaks were rather foolishly standing in a puddle of oil, with conveniently hanging lamps above them. I shot one of the lamps down and the oil burst into flames, killing the two rebels instantly. I shot down another as the others charged in, killing the last two as they backed themselves into a corner. I emerged from the shadows and we advanced further into the ruins to find a group of wounded Stormcloaks standing over the corpse of a Draugr as well as one of their comrades. I struck them both down with a blow each, and the men stopped. “Is that what killed that Stormcloak over there? It looks like it’s been dead for a hundred years!” exclaimed one of the soldiers. Hadvar and I exchanged glances and Rikke replied. “Ease up, soldier. The Legion has faced worse than a couple of dusty bonewalkers.” We delved deeper into Korvanjund, facing little opposition, but stepping over a multitude of both Stormcloak and Draugr corpses before entering a Hall of Stories, nearly identical to the one in Bleak Falls Barrow. I certainly hoped the Stormcloaks had the claw to open the puzzle door. The soldiers began searching the room for some clue to open the door, as I examined the two Stormcloak corpses collapsed against the door. Sure enough, one of them still had a claw of Ebony clutched in its grasp. The men watched on as I turned the rings and opened the door. “Great work auxiliary. We must be reaching the inner sanctum soon,” Rikke said. We emerged into a two-story room with the only way forward blocked by a portcullis. “Spread out, men. See if you can find some sort of lever.” I quickly found a handle on the upper level which opened the portcullis, but before we could continue three Draugr rose from their tombs around the room, frightening many of the soldiers out of their wits. Hadvar, Rikke and I felled two of them before the other men regained themselves and killed the last one. “Don’t break now, men; we’re almost there.” I certainly hoped so – we were all getting pretty worn down.

    We finally emerged into a large room with a Draugr sitting on a throne flanked by two coffins. As the men began to search the room, Hadvar spotted the Jagged Crown. “Legate Rikke, I’ve found it!” he exclaimed, pointing at the centre Draugr. The other men rushed over to get a look at it as the heavy stone lids of the tombs fell and all three Draugr arose from their slumber. With large, scything cuts from their battleaxes, they felled the lightly armoured soldiers in seconds – only Hadvar, the Legate and I remained. My Shout of “SU GRAH!” rang out through the chamber, as I swung my greatsword with superhuman speed, cutting down the two of the three with a flurry of quick and powerful strokes, leaving on the bearer of the Jagged Crown remaining. Hadvar and Rikke hemmed him against the throne with their shields, giving me the opportunity to land another flurry on this Draugr. We soon found out, however, that this one was also a master of the Thu’um, as he shouted Hadvar, Rikke and I apart. As I was thrown to my knees, the Draugr approached to land the killing blow on me. Its glowing eyes and bared teeth made for a terrifying sight, as it raised its huge battleaxe overhead. Just at that moment however, an arrow from behind us made for the creature’s unprotected neck, sending it back away from me. I heard Matthias’ triumphant cry from behind me as I landed the killing blow on the creature, and retrieved the Crown before it hit the ground. “Mission accomplished, Legate.” “Excellent work, Auxiliary! You’re relieved for now. I’ll have a messenger send this back to Solitude.”

    “I thought I was dead, Matthias! You saved my life!” I said, as I made my way out of the ruin with Matthias and Hadvar. “Well I was bored sitting up there with the other men. I wanted to see what the mighty Dragonborn was up to.” We all let out a bit of a chuckle. I learned the word ‘Tiid’ or ‘Time’ from another wall near the exit of the barrow before returning to the camp. I planned to spend a second night in the Legion camp before continuing on my journey through Skyrim. I plotted a couple of potential routes on my map – we were stationed pretty much right in the middle of Skyrim.

    After a day of meeting friends and defying death, it was time for me to rest.

    Aedric has many paths open to him at present. Should he:

    1. Return to Solitude
    2. Explore the northern coast of Skyrim
    3. Return to Riverwood to find who took the Horn
    4. Other

    Let me know in your comment!

    Next chapter is up - read it here

    Notes: Aedric's tale is now in its teens. I'm starting uni next week so if I get quick replies for our next decision I might be able to get another chapter up this week, otherwise it might become more of a weekly thing. And thanks to Bilal I think the map will become a regular feature from now on. Thanks for reading!

    Oh, and @Vix - I didn't just take Faedric's name and remove the F, Aedric's been a recurring character of mine for years


  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 23, 2012
    Thanks Bilal, now we have a clear majority here (sorry Kynareth.) To Riverwood we go!
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 23, 2012
    Ahh crap I always forget to give a number lol Im gonna go with Vix and say number 3
  • Ponty
    Ponty   ·  February 23, 2012
    But where to Guy!?
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 23, 2012
    Echoing kyns sentiments have fun at uni man it will be a blast.
    This has been one of my favorite posts. The start in the swamp collecting ingrediants was detailed and the descriptions really got my nose to turn up I hate the smell of a smelly swamp....  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  February 22, 2012
    First of all, best of luck at uni, Ponty! 
    I really love reading about Aedric's adventures in alchemy...he is such an amazing warrior, but he always takes time to pursue alchemy, and everytime you include that, he becomes more real to me.  As a warr...  more