Freystein's Tale: A Pet of the Gods (Ch. 14)

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    The day tried to be pleasant as I followed the road out of the dale. The blue Falkreath shield was wrapped in the matching cloak and slung over my shoulder. I'd wear them when the time came, but I preferred something less noticeable for the road.

    I'm not sure why I bothered, really. I was carrying my heavy armor in a sack slung over my other shoulder. Together with my bow and quiver and with my brown travel cloak resting over it all, I surely looked like some great misshapen monster. At least I had left my great axe back in the inn.

    I pulled some cheese from one of my belt pouches and nibbled on it as the road turned north and began climbing toward the distant mountains. The breeze picked up and despite the warm air it carried a promise of rain. I'd need to find shelter for the night, but I had a few hours of light left.

    Unfamiliar birds chattered and sang as I thought about the events in Falkreath. Why was Siddgeir sending me to kill his former allies? Was he really trying to wipe them out or did he just expect me to die?

    Why did the alfar Steward want to speak to me when I returned? She clearly hadn't wanted Siddgeir to hear our conversation, but she hadn't tried to hide that we were having one. Why did Runil want to speak to me further? He was also an Altmer. Were they connected, somehow? Allies... or enemies of Siddgeir?

    No matter how long I spent turning over in my mind I came to the same conclusion: I simply had too many questions; not enough answers. I felt a drop of rain hit my face and I put the matter aside. I couldn't do anything about it until I returned to Falkreath, and I had long miles to walk and bandits to kill first.

    For now I needed shelter. Clouds were pouring down over the mountains and racing toward me and thunder came with them. Did it never stop raining in this hold? I pulled my hood over my head and began looking around.

    There! A ruin of some type. I ran up the short path from the road and stopped short when I saw the bodies. Two men lay in the entry. As I crept up on them, I saw they were discoloured and swollen, not with decay but like they had been overcome by bees.

    This was nowhere I wanted to stay, but I had barely turned to go when a bright light stabbed my vision and my ears were filled with the hum and buzz of thousands of stinging terrors. I fell as I instinctively stumbled backwards away from the light. I dropped my extra gear as I rolled to my right and came back to my feet, sword in hand.

    Nothing came out after me. Dark clouds had blotted out the sun and my eyes could not pierce the gloom of the ruin's entrance. I didn't want to leave an enemy behind me and a sudden stab of lightning made the point that I needed shelter, right now. I knelt over my sack. Grabbing a flint and striker from my belt, I lit a torch and began to once again cautiously approach the entryway. I stepped over the bodies and crept my way through the hall to my left. Through apertures cut into the walls I saw a central chamber overgrown with vegetation, but there was no doorway near at hand. When I came to the rear of the structure and caught sight of the entryway to the center, something like a living tree charged out at me!

    It raised a hand and a stream of insects flew at me. They got into my eyes, and my ears, and wriggled their way inside of my armor, stinging and biting as they went. I felt their venom begin to course through my body and I struggled to force my eyes to stay open. The tree-beast suddenly loomed before me. It had its arms raised and I saw they were tipped with claws dripping with sap... or poison. I didn't want to find out, but my sword-arm was cramping from the insects' venom and I couldn't raise it. Instead, I swung my torch at the horror and, to my surprise, it ignited!

    The creature stumbled back, screeching, and beating at itself with its hands. It rolled on the ground, trying to smother the flames.

    The insects that had been torturing me vanished! Unfortunately their venom didn't follow them and I felt my throat begin to swell. I struggled to draw breath as the tree-beast finished putting out its flames and regained its feet. When it came at me again, I thrust the torch at it with the same effect as before.
    Clearly not the smartest tree-creature.

    I couldn't draw a full breath, but the cramping in my sword-arm relaxed and I lurched forward and began hacking at the flaming bunch of vines and twigs, occasionally thrusting my torch at it anew. When I thought it was just about finished - pieces of the creature were piled on the floor all around it, and its eyes were dimming - it let out a howl and bright light enveloped it. My sword seemed to slide off its now-glowing body as it reassembled itself before my eyes.

    Gods cursed magic.

    My vision was fading and I was losing feeling in my arms and legs, but I managed to keep up the assault. Torch-sword-sword, torch-sword-sword, and then finally, with the last of my strength I drove my sword clean through the beast's center.

    Its magical glow faded and it fell to the ground with a clatter, only so many branches and twigs. I followed it down, first to my knees and then I fell forward, gasping for breath. Everything went black before I hit the ground. My last thought was of Odin and home.


    The Dragon-Man stood over the body of his son and waited. There was one who would come, must come. It was her duty, for Freystein was her son, too, after a fashion. He waited, perfectly still save for the steam that curled from his nostrils when he exhaled. He did not have long to wait.

    The storm seemed to intensify to an apocalyptic gale, for just a moment, and a tremendous gust of wind tore through the old Nord ruin. Freystein's cloak fluttered violently and the remains of the Spriggan went clattering along the passage. Dragon-Man was unmoved, and as quickly as it came the gale passed and she was there, standing on the other side of the Northman's body. The storm outside subsided again to a mere thundershower.

    Kyne stared down at Freystein and a single tear traced its way down her face. She gathered herself with a deep breath and looked up... and staggered back to the wall in shock.

    "You!" she said, "you can not manifest in this world. How are you here!?"

    Dragon-Man shrugged. "Things are different after that infernal Dwemer atrocity exploded. I am still learning how."

    "I see." Kyne stepped forward again. "He is one of yours?"

    "Yes." Dragon-Man nodded. "And yours. I... misplaced... him."

    With a puzzled expression, Kyne looked down at the body again. After a moment she looked back up with anger in her eyes.

    "I cannot sense my husband's touch in his soul," she said, through clenched teeth. "That means you... misplaced... him," she spat the last word, "THERE."

    "I am afraid so."

    "So he knew nothing of this world and its dangers or denizens?" she asked. "He did not know what my pet could do?"

    Dragon-Man just nodded.

    "You asshole" she swore. "You should have left him there, then."

    "I could not," Dragon-Man said. "He was needed here. He was the Last."


    Now it was Dragon-Man's turn to look puzzled. "What?"

    "Is." Kyne knelt over Freystein, and placed a hand on the center of his back. "A small spark of life clings to him."

    "Does it?" Dragon-Man asked, eagerly, leaning forward. "Is it enough? Will he survive?"

    Kyne glanced up. "No. Not on his own. I came to wait, and give him the Kiss when the time came, but..." - she looked uncertain for a moment - "... but if he is the Last, allowances must be made."

    With that she turned Freystein over and opened the satchel on his belt and pulled out one of the red vials he'd been carrying since Helgen's dungeon. She popped the cork with one hand, and quickly poured the contents into the vikingr's mouth, then pinched his nose shut to force him to swallow... if his swollen through could. His body coughed and sputtered weakly, but after a moment his chest began to rise and fall laboriously. Kyne dropped the vial and stood, brushing her hands against each other.

    "He has a better than even chance, now," she said.

    Dragon-Man smiled and nodded before saying, "Fair enough. Thank you." He turned to go, but then turned back and asked, "I have always wanted to know... why did you create those things in the first place?" He swept his hand to take in all the Spriggan parts now scattered in the ruin.

    Kyne grimaced before responding. "Sheogorath. He would NOT stop bragging about his little bird defeating Hircine's beast, so I took up the same challenge." A flash of pride crossed her face. "At least my Matron tore that damnable parakeet to pieces," - pride was replaced by a touch of anger - "but that lunatic is a sore loser, he made my champion go insane and multiply and cast her into Nirn. Her offspring have been a bunch of spoiled brats ever since."

    Akatosh was still laughing too hard to breathe when he vanished in a swirl of flames.

    Kyne took a last long look at Freystein and softly said, "Rest easy now, child," before a gust of wind carried her away, too.


    I came awake on my back, sore from more stings than I cared to count. A storm was raging outside, and the wind was howling through the ruin. It had scattered the remains of my foe and left me feeling quite cold. I still couldn't breath deeply, but I managed to gather up the pieces of the tree-creature and pile them together. They were just sticks now, and I needed a fire.

    I went and gathered my things from outside and removed a green cape from one of the bodies by the door. It was serviceable and would make a nice extra blanket for my bedroll, which I laid out by the now cracking fire.

    Exhausted I lay down to sleep, and hopefully heal, and it was only then that I noticed the empty vial on the floor where I had fallen. It was one of the potions that had healed my arm in Helgen. I'd been carrying them, just in case, but hadn't used any of them again... filthy magic that they must be.

    Had I used it in desperation and forgotten?

    Or had someone been here and... saved me?

    I fell asleep, with one more unanswerable question on my mind.