SotF: Just a Formality EPILOGUE

  • ‘You know, even to this day I still wonder,’ Falrielle said, swirling her cup. ‘I wonder if the first thing I’ll see whenever I open my eyes is that green light. That all of this – the drink in my hands, the sash on my waist, this chair that I’m sitting on is just a dying dream. A desperate fantasy my mind conjured up to hold on for a few moments before oblivion’


                   ‘Vur!’ she continued, emptying her cup and smacking it on the table.


                   Why oh why am I still alive, Carcy?’ Falrielle reached over and seized the demijohn. ‘Why oh why indeed. Vur!’


                   The spiced wine was sweet, too sweet and too weak for her taste but it was something. The elf wasted no time filling her cup.


                   ‘You need to stop blaming yourself, Fally,’ Carcette finally said, shaking her head. ‘It has been ten years-‘


                   ‘Quite a bit has happened in ten years.’ Falrielle emptied her cup and poured another. ‘And nothing I’ve done in the past ten is anything compared to what he has done in one… You didn’t summon me to speak of dust and echoes, did you my Keeper?’ 


                   The demijohn was now empty.  


                   ‘Of dust and echoes? No, not exactly,’ the Keeper said, plopping a stack of papers, scrolls, books, and files on the table. ‘You asked me if I had slept. No, I have not and this is why.’


                   ‘Ever since the Helgen Incident in the Ides of Last Seed, I have been busy,’ she continued. ‘. Officially, Helgen was razed by brigands in a plunder. Officially, the Jarldom of Falkreath dealt with the brigands, slaughtered to the man. All was done and done – until Kynesgrove not too long after. Reports and rumours were that a dragon attacked the hamlet and I wondered; if this had anything to do with Helgen.’


                   ‘Are you sure it isn’t all a coincidence?’ Falrielle said. ‘Banditry are on the rise since all the Jarls had their guards stationed at the capitals. And so, what if it’s dragons? Stranger things have happened in Tamriel.’


                   The words came out but Falrielle wasn’t reassured.


                   ‘Mayhaps, I shall grant you that but care to explain the call of the Greybeards? Not since Tiber Septim an era past have they summoned anyone to High Hrothgar.’


                   Falrielle raised an eyebrow. She was never one for conspiracies, she’d rather truth out but Carcette was not one to make speculations with haste.


                   ‘What are you suggesting then?’


                   ‘I am suggesting,’ Carcette said, slowly, cautiously. ‘That the Dragonborn, has at last returned and in his shadow – the end times has come.’


                   For a moment, Falrielle didn’t say anything. She found herself staring at Carcette, disbelieving what she had heard. The end times? Absurd. So absurd she began a cackling laugh.


                   ‘The end times?’ Falrielle wheezed and snorted. ‘You know, there is a preacher in Whiterun that spends his day shouting at the top of his lungs that the end times have come and how only the good works and faith in Talos can us all. War madness, they’ve called it – has it afflicted you too?’


                   Carcette slammed her palm on the table. ‘This is no laughing matter, Falrielle! Listen and I shall make sense of all this. First tell me, what do you know of the Tale of the Dragonborn?’


                   ‘What don’t I know?’ Falrielle snickered. ‘Every True Nord has heard of the legend. He who is a hero born with the soul of a dragon.’


                   Carcette nodded, prodding Falrielle to continue.


                   ‘The Dragonborn kills dragons and steals their power.’


                   ‘The importance is?’


                   ‘The importance?’ Well to gain more power.’


                   ‘Why does the Dragonborn need that power?’


                   ‘To defeat-,‘ Falrielle paused, she just couldn’t get the words out her mouth but Carcette knew what she was going to say. Alduin, The End of the Cycles and The World Eater.


                   ‘I will say this again,’ she finally stammered out. ‘How do we know that this is not all a mere coincidence?’


                   ‘You demand too much.’ Carcette dug around and pulled out a map of Skyrim. Not a map exactly, more of a rubbing of a map. ‘but I came prepared. Do you remember where I sent Brother-Vigilant Moric?’


                   ‘More ruins to deal with the rising Draugr numbers.’


                   ‘Half-true,’ Carcette said. ‘When Moric returned from Kruunuvuori, he had also returned with this etching. It was from a plaque mounted on the wall. Look at these markings – for a long time I thought little of it, believing them to be imperfections…’


                   ‘Then Kynesgrove,’ Falrielle said, tapping the marking on the village.


                   Carcette nodded. ‘Then the Bonestrewn Flats, Mzuflt, and the Lost Tongue Pass.’


                   ‘That’s all it says on the map. The rest of Skyrim is marking free... but things never are that easy is it?’


                   Carcette shook her head. ‘We have received reports of dragon sightings near Rorikstead and the Great Henge to the west. This puzzle needs many pieces to solve and we have but a scant handful of it. That is why I deployed Brother-Vigilant Tyranus to Markarth – to seek wisdom from the Dwemer but alas, I have yet heard from him since the eye of Sun’s Dawn.’


                   ‘Why don’t we just keep killing the dragons then?’ Falrielle said. ‘For true, only the Dragonborn may truly slay a dragon but any mortal can put them into the ground. Just keep killing them – the Vigil will fight to the end.’


                   Carcette answered with a sad smile. Never that easy.


                   ‘First, it takes much to slay a dragon and second.’ Carcette raised her and waved it in the air. ‘Do you feel that chill? The kiss of winter for month of summer. And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold – mayhaps this winter is his harbinger. We may do battle but the world ends not in fire but in ice.’


                   More than killing a dragon, now she had to fight the weather? Falrielle would scoff but that would reveal her chattering teeth. She was… afraid. It was a different kind of fear from staring down a Daedra, it was all so… inevitable. It was like trying to fight your own mortality: you don’t and all you can do was hope for the best.


                   Falrielle sighed and slouched. ‘I don’t suppose you have a plan because while to be honest, we’re fucked but I won’t go down without trying something but I’m not the thinker here – you are and you wouldn’t of have sent for me unless you had something in mind. Speak.’


                   For a moment Carcette paused before she pulled out an envelope with a broken wax seal. The Keeper placed the envelope in front of Falrielle, giving her a better look – the seal was of a proud stallion, the emblem of Whiterun Hold.


                   ‘That missive is written by the Jarl himself,’ Carcette said. ‘It speaks of a noble call-to-arms to the greatest talents of all of Skyrim for an expedition to where, the missive just would not say. Even more: it does not speak of payment.’


                   Falrielle’s mind scrambled. A job for no payment means a job for something more than coin. It was probably dangerous and more likely – suicidal.


                   ‘Balgruuf is many things – cunning, greedy but he is no fool. The Jarl knew what to say, what words to craft fine silvering-gold. I want you alone to investigate. See what Whiterun Hold has learned for I am at my rope’s end. However, if this call is genuine, if this expedition may lead to our salvation – join them.’


                   ‘Wait,’ Falrielle said. ‘Stop for a moment and listen to yourself. The world is ending and you want me to stop it? Why me? Why not Moric or Tyranus? What makes me so special?’


                   ‘Why did I choose you?’ Carcette said, tilting her head. ‘You are brave, your nerve never wavered in times of great peril. You are compassionate and may that strengthen your resolve to see your duty done. You are ruthless for you know how to steel your heart for the necessary evils. Lest I forget the most important; something you had that the others did not, something only I saw. Care to guess?’


                   Falrielle did not answer.


                   ‘Luck. You survived when you ought of have perished, you said so yourself. You have stumbled into trouble and triumphed by chance alone… Chance or providence?’


                   ‘Providence?’ Falrielle smirked. ‘Now you’re just indulging yourself.’


                   Carcette shook her head, her face serious. ‘In all of the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients, no one is that lucky. Not unless the Nine have a plan for them.’


                   ‘You speak of destiny?’


                   ‘I speak of a chance,’ Carcette said, quietly. ‘You think me gambling your life on long odds? Yes, I am but for a chance that we will make it out alive.’


                   Cold, yes but it was nothing less than Falrielle had expected and hoped for in the Keeper. It was after all her duty to make these calls. A call for a chance.


                   Falrielle leaned back and smiled hideously. ‘It looks like I don’t even have a choice in this so why even bother briefing me? Just point me in the right direction and I’ll see to it.’


                   ‘It is just a formality.’


                   Falrielle snorted. ‘When do I start?’



    Author(s)'s notes: And I'm done.

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