Skyrim Journeys – Day Five

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  • Charles Francis Moran VI, George Collazo, John McGuire and Stu Horvath played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for five days straight. They each went in a different cardinal direction to find their own unique adventures. Read Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four. This is the fifth and final part of their chronicles.

    ——–

    Nine (West)

    With no pass available through the mountains, I could only go around. As I climbed higher, the wind began to howl at me. I should have heeded its warning. Coming around the mountain, I saw the skeletal remains of a large beast. Picked to the bone.

    Then I heard the wailing of a witch – she screamed at me, and gave chase. I drew my blade and fought magic with steel. As she fought she told me that she would enjoy killing me. I felt the same sentiment in return. She fought hard; however, I bested her. As I came through with the killing blow, I looked at her face and saw sad surprise. I wished I could have eased her mind.

    “All this means nothing any more – it is time for sleep.”

    I came to a clearing where I again saw the bones, and realized now that it was not a beast at all, but a sculpture of bones situated to mark the entrance to a cave in the rock. This was most certainly a witch’s coven; a dark power resides in there. I pause to reflect. What is driving me? I have trouble remembering anything before now. I have memories of being a hatchling, but nothing specific. I know I am Argonian, and I know I am to go west.

    I rise with the sun and soon find myself climbing high on the side of the mountain. With the ice and snow cutting into my skin, I can’t help but wonder what that Nord saw in me, helping me escape the dragon. Is my destiny dependent on the choices of others? Is everyone connected to each other somehow, or does this all exist for me?

    Then I hear singing, and then muttering.

    As luck would have it there happens to be a lookout for a fort here facing out over the mountain, and I happened to climb up to it. There is no way down or back at this point without risking falling and, more than likely, dying. Would my face have the look of sad surprise?

    Who knows how many and well-trained the soldiers are inside this fort? The man singing is complaining about a female.

    Perhaps I should have seen the Nord’s sister and let my quest happen as it may.

    Taking to himself, the unseen man says, “I’ll never do another day in that jail. I would rather die than give up.”

    I never planned on giving up, but sometimes life gets in the way, and I’d rather die than let life get in the way.

    I approach the fort as quietly as I can, but there was nothing stopping the brutish orc bandit. He rushed me at full strength and practically knocked me off the mountain. Two more orcs were alerted.  My name is Nine and I felt alive.

    The first orc came quickly, didn’t realize the severity of the mountain slope and fell to his death. The other two shirtless monsters found themselves on the business end of my blade. Their lifeless bodies slid off the side of the mountain to join their companion.  I hear more orcs coming. I look at my hands and I choose to use them.

    My name is Nine, and I will go west and fulfill my destiny – as soon as I have gone everywhere else first.

    – Charles Francis Moran VI

    ———

    Ertoth Velth (South)

    The passages intricately wound together into a spire, the top of which opened up to the sky. Velth saw the early sunrise and realized she had taken much longer in the cave than she had anticipated. Songs from a bird passing above the spire stretched and amplified off the circular walls, sounding monstrously mechanical and unearthly.

    “This place is damned,” Velth thought.

    Skeletons continued to appear in greater and greater concentration with each floor that wound closer to the top. The only hindrance they gave was that Velth’s arrow supply was running lower and lower. The last passage, way at the top, had a pressure plate built into the floor. The design was incredibly well hidden and if she wasn’t acutely aware, she would have missed it.

    Velth tested the trap. Five gouts of fire issued forth, making an unwavering pattern. She studied it closely and plotted a path. Crouching low, Velth maneuvered and made her way through the fiery maze. The very moment  she passed the last spout, the trap extinguished itself.

    At the end of the hall was an ornate stone door. She could feel a slight breeze from the edges of the door, but no sound came from behind it. “It looks like a giant headstone,” Velth thought. She gave it a gentle push with the tips of her claws and was amazed at how easily it swung open.

    Sitting at a desk in the center of the room was a large human with grey skin and red eyes. It sat so still, Velth wondered if it was alive at all. Then with almost a curtsy, it pushed its chair away from its desk and stood up. Folklore and tales from childhood streamed into her consciousness as she came to the realization of what stood before her.

    Vampire.

    Pulling a greatsword from its scabbard, the vampire seemed to relish the feel of the cool leather grips under its fingers. A moment later it moved with supernatural speed toward Velth. Instinctively, two iron arrows flew from her bow, landing square in the vampire’s shoulder. It seemed to not even notice.

    Velth bolted back down the hallway. She could hear the sword swinging inches behind her. Once she was back by the beginning of the passage she planted her foot on the pressure plate. The Vampire screamed in agony as it was encased in spouts of flame. Its armor sizzled. The necrotic flesh beneath made a moldy smoke which instantly filled the hallway and Velth’s nostrils. But still the vampire pushed through the flame and came at her. Grabbing her axe, she slashed at the beast. The blow simply reverberated off of its armor. The vampire swung its mighty greatsword and it dug  deep into the flesh of Velth’s right arm.

    Realizing that with just an axe she was no match for the undead, Velth felt a primal instict kick in. Dropping her axe, she leapt with all her strength at the vampire’s face and throat, her claws finding cold flesh that she tore away.

    Moments later, she looked at the gray mass that stained her claws. The throat and face of the vampire no longer existed. It lay very still. She pushed it over onto the flames and let them finish the job ’til nothing but a pile of ashes remained.

    The air at the top of the spire felt invigorating.

    —–

    When Khajiit are young, the litter will often be taken on a wilding hunt. Under the watchful eye of their mother, young are often encouraged to chase down small prey and learn to use their claws. They are often told other races are weak because they need weapons, while the Khajiit is a weapon.

    – George Collazo

    ———

    Bjorn (East)

    A man can only take so many days of walking in a direction without reaching his destination. It has now been five very long days since I escaped incarceration and set out towards Eastmarch looking for answers. I have convinced myself that I no longer care what awaits me in Eastmarch, or at least I did a few hours ago when it was still light out. Now I am not so sure.

    I feat that I have become lost somewhere north of the Rift and that I am still at least two days travel away from Eastmarch. I thought about turning back, but where would I go? If anybody survived the dragon’s attack, I might still be a wanted man – and I still have no idea as to why. I can’t go back to Riverwood – my only choice is to continue to forge ahead in the dark. The road is not a safe place in the night. So I keep moving.

    In one of the rock formations, I think I see a flickering light so I move towards it. It would appear to be the mouth of a cave and from it I can hear voices chanting something in language that is unfamiliar to me. So I quietly creep  into the cave, curious to see what is inside. It was a coven of witches, dancing around a fire, making what appeared to be dark promises to a lost god. One of them heard my pack scrape across a rock and looked up in my direction. I began moving backwards as she stepped forward into the shadows in which I hid. I covered her mouth with my hand and slit her throat before she had the chance to alert her sisters.

    A few moments passed before one of the other witches came through to check on the other. She gasped when she saw the body, alerting the final witch who arrived in time to see her sister decapitated. The last of the witches had no spells prepared and ultimately became her own blood sacrifice. Whatever god they were praying to must have had a good laugh that day.

    Or maybe the joke would be on me after all. As I began looting the cave of all its riches I couldn’t help but notice the human remains scattered about the cave floor. Skulls and bones were piled up, picked clean of their flesh and set out in a path to another cave. It was then that I heard the skittering coming from all around me. Everywhere I looked from out of the darkness came giant spiders, and they were hungry. I began to hack at them wildly with my broadsword, trying to prevent myself from being overtaken by the swarm. For every one I cut down, two more would appear, so I continued to swing my blade with abandon and hope for the best.

    I managed to thin their ranks, but at a cost. Even with multitudes of their brethren lying dead at my feet, there were still too many of them to keep track of. One of them managed to catch me off guard and bite me. There was  a sharp stinging sensation in my forearm before the tingling and numbness set in. This had all become too much to bear and I knew I needed to fall back, but I made sure to cleave the eight-legged bastard in two before I did.

    The cave’s entrance was blocked by spiders so I followed the bone path deeper in, hoping to find a choke point where I could hold off the spiders. This would prove harder than I thought, as the numbness started working its way down to my legs. I had been poisoned by the spider bite, and realized that any attempt at escape would be futile.

    My knees began to buckle under the weight of my plate-covered torso. My right arm let go of my sword the minute I hit the floor, my veins coursing with poison. All I could do was turn my head towards my aggressors, and wait for them to claim me. I thought I heard laughter coming from the mouths of the dead witches, but it was really just my mind playing one last cruel trick. The cavern started to shake, and from the ceiling above me descended the most foul creature I have ever seen. The spiders I had faced were not giants; nay, I now see that they were just babies as I lie here humbled and broken before their King!

    My eyes teared up as I gazed upon this horror. It was all I could do, really. They say a man’s life will flash before his eyes right before he is about to die; well, mine was now flashing before twenty of his. I like to think I saw it all in that moment. All the pain I have wrought, all of the lives I have taken. How I relished the chaos, and how I thought nothing could ever stop me. I finally remember what led me down this path and why I was being put to death.

    My name is Bjorn, and I was a killer.

    – John McGuire

    ———

    Starling (North)

    High above Ivarstead, at the top of the Throat of the World, is a monastery called High Hrothgar. Several old monks live there. They are convinced I have a destiny greater than the one I have made for myself.

    After much pestering from the inhabitants of Ivarstead, I made the long climb. The path, which is occasionally lined with rough-hewn stairs, wraps around the mountain as it makes its way up. Despite the difficult going, the snow and the howling wind, it is actually quite beautiful up there. When it grew dark, I could see, through a screen of pines, the sky alight with the green and red flickering glow of the aurora.

    I heard them out, these greybeard monks. Their tale is long and full of dragons and prophecy and magic. There is certainly power to be had if I listen to them.

    But there was nothing in this destiny of theirs about gold. Or property. Or even auroras. I’m no coward – I will gladly use my trusty mace to defend myself or to make a profit – but to turn it against a creature like a dragon, to actively hunt them? Those stakes are too high.

    No, thank you. Those monks can keep their destiny – I’ve made my own.

    – Stu Horvath

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