PART 1 "Trip To The Camp"
Minutes before the light ball jumps behind the snowy mountains the cryptic woman woke up the elf and pulled her by force from her hand, outside the town walls where she tipped a guard to let them get on the watch tower and watch the sunrise, gasping for air. The man leaned against the wooden pole and watched it with them with a warm smile. It was same like any of the other five hundred sunrises he had seen before but sharing it for once along with two romantic ladies, one particularly valuable, and the other amusingly stupefied, made it the first of its kind. He therefore felt generous to share his food with them.
It was still dark while they silently passed the mead bottle one to another in the circle and unwrapped the food quickly in order to not miss the first ray. Adynn took her hands out of her sleeves and smiling gratefully she accepted a hard chunk of bread and a tiny charcoal stick (which turns out it was overcooked rabbit haunch). She began bitting small pieces immediately, chewing them to mud because it was tasteless and she was not hungry, but didn't want to sadden the hospitable man.
Nancuria knew his name. She asked him about his back and the guard moved his head in disappointment. Then asked him about his wife and again he moved his head in disappointment. Last she mentioned retirement and the man just looked down. So she didn't ask him anymore about his life.
Just as he raised his head again from the ground the sun bloomed, at first gray and cold, and slowly it shifted the empty white snow on the mountains into many colors like it was transparent glass, until the last night critter was beaten in singing by the countless chirping and the ground divided into sun and shadows.
It was one of a kind. The air filled with positive smells. Adynn saw a saber cat close by that was lying openly all this time on the grass but its colors made it one with the ground. The hunter moved suddenly and got up to stretch from its sleep. She never saw a saber cat stretch before, or sleep, so she laughed when she saw it. Nobody, not even the other guards stretched their arrows on it feeling like they would dishonor the morning spirit should they get a magnificent animal like this in its sleep. If it showed interest on their horses they would sadly kill it but for now it wasn't necessary.
Nancuria walked to the corner, threw her head back with her eyes closed and waited until the sun crossed the golden fields and touched her face. Her hair took in the light. They turned in a golden ginger color. Adynn watched the mature beauty amazed for a while before she comes next to her. "How do you call this light Nancuria?" she asked softly. Her finger showed on the mountains.
It was as if she had reached her hand out and closed her fingers around the sun, then slid it in her pocket. Nancuria opened her eyes disturbed and turned her head slowly on her, looking with wonder. The guard dropped his jaw. "Do you mean the sun?" she asked her back, in the same tenderness that you would ask a child.
The sun. It was such an magical moment for her. She learned the name of the burning ball.Adynn smiled brightly. "The sun..." she whispered, and she faced her head like Nancuria towards the sun. She pronounced it in such marvel that the other two felt a new amazement in it for a while. "From where did the sun came from Nancuria?".
Nancuria didn't speak so the dragonborn looked at her. Her friend was looking up with a serious look- and a hint of sadness. "I wish we had the answer to that my elf. I wish I could tell you."
"Sometimes, I think, the sun listens to me when I ask for the rain to stop and it shines again." Adynn continued, "Other times I feel like the weather is against me. You think the sky and the clouds can hear us?"
Straight after her question the tower creaked and sounds of someone big coming up the wooden stairs to their watchtower, interrupted the moment. Instantaneously all three turned around and were surprised at the noble Nord man dressed in heavy expensive linens, jewels and furs, that came coming up with his head held high like a proud lion, and a small party of two archers and three sword welders watching his back with their eyes torn open and veins popped out.
Pulling her eyes from the blood seeking bodyguards around him she met someone very different. Confident, sure and serene. He was blond and he had his beard knotted a little before the tip forming a tiny ball so it wouldn't get messy, probably. His eyes were small and sleepy under the sun, they opened up though once he stepped in the shadow of the tower and he looked at Adynn intensely into her eyes with countenance. By the way he stare at her, Adynn realized that she was insulting her with her staring.
Since she guessed quickly who it was she only got this much from him before she lowered her head so low that she could see nothing else than her boots and one from Nancuria and the guard who kept night watch. Her spine ached the back of her neck.
The other man's shadow stretched out left from his feet.
"Good day my Jarl, how can I help you?" the guard said with his important voice. Nancuria greet him as well, sounding less acquainted than him. And the both of them waited patiently for him to find a worthy line of the jewels in his forehead to welcome them back.
Adynn recognized the silence that fell when people were looking at her (also a wave of that perfume they make out of flowers entered her nostrils). This time however the air came friendly into her lungs. He was definitely looking at her, but happily not with hate yet. Just curiosity.
Her mind was forcing her to apologize for staring at him so boldly before but her mouth did not move. She waited like the rest.
Finally the Jarl turned to the guard without saying anything about Adynn and time began rolling again. "Gayr, I let you responsible to inform anyone who seeks for me that I leave my seat in Whiterun for a few days empty. I will travel with Irileth to Solitude."
"Is this about the imperial-" His thoughts had dashed uncontrollably out of his mouth and he cut them. He apologized sincerely. Whatever the reason of the sudden- kind of secret- departure, he had no right to ask for reasons from the Jarl, and the Jarl had every power to keep it secret if he did. It was just that he was used to put him self into people's private business and for a moment he ignored who stood in front of him.
But the man didn't appear even the slightest bothered about the imprudent, incomplete sentence towards him. In fact he answered. "I am going to ask the dragons if they can pull the sun down for me. A have a few answers to get from him." he joked in a flirting manner. Adynn had the feeling he overheard their little talk about sun and clouds."
More seriously he gave the real reason. "We've received many disturbing letters from Jarl Elisif for months in relation to...private, town matters, which cannot be solved through letters. I am going to offer whatever help I have. My court mage, Irileth, and these men will come with me. Tell the people of Whiterun who want my ear to speak to my Stuart." he remained silent for a while and then turned his attention to the women speaking with an informal voice. "I don't think we've met with this Woman." he said "Is that a new student Nancuria?"
"Oh, yes and no. Here is Adynn. Adynn Rnyil."
Adynn would not have lifted her heads otherwise. That Imperial knew her last name. Or at least if that was indeed her last name, and not a momentary creation, because she could not remember neither what or if about it herself. So she toss her head up and attacked Nancuria with a glare. "Yes. Adynn Rnyil" she verified aloud to herself turning her head away from Nancuria. Now she gave a close examination to his face.
He looked like he was trying to choke a smile. "Nice to meet more people from Morrowind." while saying that Adynn looked behind him at another Dunmer woman like her standing with a hardened expression on her face. At first there was no difference from the rest of the guardians. All helmets shadowed their faces once they looked down so only if you gave weight to the skin colors on their arms would you see it. The woman had the typical greenish- purplish skin of the elves from Morrowind. Instantly she felt like this Jarl was a man of trust.
"Adynn," Nancuria opened her palm to the the Jarl "this is Balgruff, the Jarl of Whiterun."
Adynn looked at Nancuria not finding the right words to say. Finally she resulted into a deep nod. "I'm honored." she said heavily.
He nod as well as a sign of thanks. Jarl Balgruff didn't behave like the type of man that would be right for Jarl ship. His attitude did not present a man in search of a throne to spend lounging on all of his life. She just sensed like circumstances chained him to the top of Whiterun and had it been different he would be a capable warrior in the field. But somehow, humbly nodding and going away in person to deliver his message- dressed in Jarl outfit- it made him the most fitting figure for walking in the carpets of the castle high on Whiterun. Yes, Adynn kind of liked him already.
The three of them remained until the Jarl with his escort were out of sight and then they farewell the guard, Gayr, and headed back into Whiterun. With Nancuria in her side Adynn got on people's good side all the sudden. Too sad they never stayed to enjoy a friendly day.
Unknown of why, Nancuria waited until pre afternoon to announce their departure. Until that comes Adynn spend almost full in the room she rented the previous night waiting anxiously. She didn't want to pay for a second day, a day she wouldn't spend in it, and she avoided to see the owners. The idea of her being the Dragonborn was so far away that she grew tired of thinking of the way expanding between her and that title. It's the same to deciding of building a town which will stand on the sea. Once you step into the sand you suddenly see your toes sink under it, how they get swallowed, pushed and pulled by each wave and start thinking how much deep before I reach a solid bottom.
When Nancuria opened the door to give the start of their journey, she found the Dunmer kneeling on the floor in front of all her things scattered in front of her, her hands abandoned at the sides like she lost power over them. She was so confused that she didn't bother looking up. She just remain in deep thoughts looking at everything in front of her like it was a bad wound on the wooden floor.
"Are you not ready yet to begin". There was no question mark.
Adynn needed a lot while to answer to her. "No," she mumbled confounded, without changing or taking away the expression from her things "I tried but, but..."
Nancuria stopped wondering aimlessly around the room setting her dead eyes on the other woman. Her fingers untangle as they were behind her back to be crossed in front of her chest. "You emptied everything from the pack I gave you and now you are staring at them. We are in hurry. Please put them all back so we can go".
Adynn continued staring at the misc in front of her. There were potions, alchemy ingredients, a few leather skins protecting bread or uncooked vegetables, keys, strings, forks, unknown medical tools and volume first and second of a story. "I can't come" she said. Her voice sounded heavy and impersonal to herself like it came from the lungs of someone who was about to be executed. "I can't walk. I can't put the things back into the bag and I can't get up. I can't be the Dragonborn, it's a mistake" she had started to get panicked.
"I'll help you". Nancuria started placing the foreign inventory into the bag alone while the elf fought to slow down her breathing. The air however seemed to be sucked out of the room, into the dark hole of the opened bag. She wanted to plead the healer to let her be, get away from her life, cry but if she wasted the little air she had she was afraid she would start choking. Her gut told her that tears would not work. Nancuria looked at her like she was a tool to be shaped. Like a weapon. Yes, that's what she was: A rare ingot of the strongest. The only one that could pierce Hyidd's, the Argonian's, scales.
"All set". She said cheerfully daring to direct a smile to her.
Nancuria support the Dunmer during the first steps. Literately fear drain the strength out of the poor elf. She was sobbing, tearless, the sobbing of cold, fear, death. She felt her bottom half weak like when she was ill.
All eyes laid on the hugged friends as they made their way down the stairs and to the exit of the inn. A mercenary offered help to carry Adynn and open the door and then Nancuria dismissed him by his name, and using a lie on Adynn's condition.
She set the elf down on the cold step to calm down before they meet with the rest. "You need more work than my original estimation, Adynn. You have to learn to silence your thoughts". Adynn still shivering did not speak. The shape of her eyes gave Nancuria the feeling she was going to explode, from the inside. There used to be one student once who lost his minds because of Nancuria's cold stance to his difficulties killing three others with poison in an attempt to kill her. The boy was a Dunmer as well, a little darker and younger that her, but eyes exactly like hers. Bringing back a few flashed of that day she soften the chords in her neck and spoke less like a teacher. Dunmer did not think clear under pressure. "Thinking is an interesting trait in human."
The Dragonborn looked at her. Her one eye was winking from sweat.
"Why?" she went on "Because thinking brings us visions and no matter how easy or hard it is to make it a reality there's always a way, I believe. It's thinking that makes them impossible."
"They are not always impossible like not everything can be possible" she took a shaky breath as she looked away again, obviously giving a strong battle with the voices in her head. People were looking only at them again. "Dragonborn is impossible." she whispered. A new wave of shivers run through her body while she said that.
Nancuria grabbed Adynn's robe collar and turned her around brutally. Non of it match the calm expression on her face. Adynn closed her fists. Did not punch her though. "Let me give you an example of someone who proved the impossible, possible, Adynn." she said slightly heated. "Hyidd. Ordinary Hyidd, a simple nobody Argonian. Him. He believed he was the hero and so he fought his way up like one. Do you see the power hidden in fate Adynn? In the trust of fate? It makes you defy even gods!"
"What if I don't believe in legends and fates Nancuria?"
"Then you must."
She sounded like a Nord, not an Imperial. Truth be told, her dedication and blind belief in their Dovahkiin stories was not Imperial at least.
"Must doesn't mean I will. Must means I have to, doesn't it."
Their little confrontation was done with whispers and threatening looks. Adynn would love to have the freedom to scream at her but their secret must by all means be kept hidden from the ears placed upon their talk. As it seems Nancuria remembered it the same time with her. The grip released her robe. It still took a pat from the wearer to straighten though. "You are right." she admitted. "You are right Adynn, my apology. Unfortunately, It's up to your own will if you follow me. I only hope fate is not my illusion." She looked at her deeply in her eyes and asked her seriously "Are you willing to sacrifice your life following- and believing- after tales Adynn even though you will never be sure if they make the future or not?"
Cringe. She couldn't do anything else. The question was heavy, and not at all convincing. In the contrary it was like Nancuria intended with that to make her say no. Sacrifice you life for something that is not even certain to come. Why the gods would she fraise it so dispiritingly.
Adynn was for a second time standing in the middle of a two way made to decide her final answer. The travel bag became sensible on her legs, kind of heavier, while she remembered of yesterday night how she gave up her money and weapons outside of Whiterun. She had already decided that time to let go of her happiness for what was best for this world. Now she had to decide again. And maybe again and again and again until she began counting on those blasted Nord tales. She sighed in surrender and got up. "Take me. It looks like I don't have a choice anyway".
Nancuria continued about fate and men as they walked towards the gates together, stopped and waited for someone else. Adynn was engaged in her own thoughts so she didn't pay much attention.
Thinking brings us to the steed edge, she was saying, strapped with a set of plucked feathers, ready to test ourselves and see if we can triumph over nature and fly, and, just when you are about to throw your feet off the ground something stops you. It isn't the ground or the trees surrounding you but only thoughts that can not be touched, that cannot even crush a bug by themselves. Thoughts do not exist, but in the same time they are. And exactly, they rise as invisible untouched walls which can not be brought down by simply landing a hammer on top of them because the walls will go right through the hammer. It requires weapons found only in the mind of the strong ones. Take it as a final battle. Like every problem with human, there's always the master culprit behind, usually waiting in the end. Find the culprit that was waiting to attack you in the final moment, kill him, then leap.
"It's like trying to drive a ship through the mud. It's not impossible."
When she heard what the mage said, Adynn turned her head in surprise. "Ship through the mud!" she repeated with amazement. "Or a city over the sea."
"Yes. Or a city over the sea.You want to believe you'll hit the "gold" spot from the first try, but unfortunately when you're counting on luck it's usually when hope takes the place of belief. And with no belief there's no confidence. And with no confidence there is discouragement. And a discouraged human will shy away defeated even though he never got to fight. The effort dreams take sometime."
Adynn wondered what was she going to say about the boat in the mud. She would never find out.
Nancuria raise her hand straight up inviting two others waiting next to the gate guards to copy her. Adynn looked at them. A fat, portly woman and another thin one dressed in robes like Nancuria's. Adynn could not tell if the small person was a man or a woman.
"You know, Adynn, I think thoughts are important, but if you don't pay attention to which ones you must follow they will make you useless. And I don't like wasting my day with useless people." She speed up and broke away from her before she had the opportunity to reply. Adynn paused with Nancuria's rude note in front of a Redguard blacksmith not more that a feet far. The busy woman gave her a short look deciding she was not interested. Adynn kept looking, however, like hypnotized. She watched how she banged on the ingot with patience making it flat.
Now who was the first who beat and burn iron into weapon? Back then, such idea would probably be unthinkable. It's not like mud. It's like rock. Its harder than that. It's iron. Fat, petrosal chunks of earth. But somebody saw one day something and insisted that there was an answer to create knives, tools out of them and soldiers that cannot be penetrated by wooden sticks that easy! In some sort he made something which was thought impossible, possible. For the minds of his time at least.
But not anything is possible! she heard her mind screaming at her.
"Adynn, get over here!"
Nancuria with her fellow friend load the errant boy (he was a boy) with their bags to have their hands free in case an unpredictable attacker happen to cross ways with them. His face showed insecurity but no anger or anything menacing.
The team that left Whiterun consisted of three woman, one being herself, and a man student, all being Imperials, dressed similarly- except herself. The male drew her curiosity. He was in a state of constant suspense, irreversible. Whether it was in his nature or because Nancuria and the other one wouldn't let him waste their valuable time with mistakes, by the looks of him he'd soon cause his heart to shatter his rib cage to crums. Although Adynn normally had a big grudge for such pathetic beings, this one seemed to appeal her good side. Maybe because both had a common enemy, Nancuria. Or maybe because he was so pitiful it was almost adorable. Like a little child trying to walk in his father's armors. So she quickly found herself walking next to him.
When they were out of the city gates Adynn dare give him attention for the first time. "I am Adynn" she introduced. She felt so bad for him when she read the happiness glowing in his eyes when rising his head.
"Marius- Starvas j. Emilus" he said fluently. "Or! Or Marius- Starvas j. Ecitus".
The name just begged Adynn to make fun of it but she chose to get past it. Something about him made him one of those guys that would cry and fall in long depression over the death a house bunny. His hair were a shade of brown, curly up to the end of his neck. Sad eyebrows, round face and dark blue eyes of innocence to complete his apprentice outlook. Wrinkles were not absent from his face but Adynn bet he was younger than what he looked. Eyes can tell you something really different, supposed one knows how to read them. He was the only one with his hood fallen back. "Very pleased to see new members joining in our peace action"
Peace what there? How is putting the Jarl's head under the axe considered peace? Adynn thought it would be easier to stay silent on this one. Nancuria would give her the explanations she owed her later. "So do you live in Whiterun Marius?". That's all she remembered from his name because it could fit a woman as well.
"No. I am from Rorikstead. Actually just a little farm outside of Rorikstead, but they still consider me as their own. Do you know where Rorikstead is? It's closest to Markarth."
"No, I haven't been to Markarth".
"It's the dwemer town at the end middle left of the map. You know the Understone Keep?"
She shook her head. "I never travel outside Whiterun's plains".
"I can't blame you. I am not too thrilled about crossing tundra as well. Believe me, I would never step out of the farm if it wasn't for Nancuria. So the reach it the Jarl's palace there, and they say that its ruins of the ancient dwemer. They say that they have a museum in Markarth with all the dwemer artifacts and machinery. This is a great gift for us, simple people because I would never get the courage to stumble into the old ruins around Skyrim to see one. I am just a healer. You can say it takes a lot more than moving your fingers and moving your hands to go against dwemer guardians."
Adynn had no idea who were the dwemer and who where the guardians and how did Markarth look like. She had a feeling however that Nancuria was not going to allow this ignorance go for much too long. If she had to take a guardian in her arms and carry him in her tent just so Adynn could see it then that she would do.
"I go to Rorikstead from times to times" he continued seeing that his companion didn't show interest about history. "There's a mountain wall between Markarth and Rorikstead. Also the the tail of the river. I live at the end of that tail so I travel from Old hroldan and get to Rorikstead. This is the quickest way."
Why exactly was he giving her directions?
"Unfortunately my duties need me constantly on the road so I rarely have time for my parents. Do you leave in Whiterun?"
"Uh, no I just came here yesterday" she paused irregularly. Her answer was rather small for some reason as she cut most of it.
"Then where do you live?"
"Marius what did you do with the potions I gave you?" asked him equally gravely the healer number two with healer number one. Her voice set the errand boy on alert mode who almost trip in his nervousness to stand next to her. "I have them all in this bag" he said by handing out a worn out leather. Adynn watched as the lady similar to Nancuria pulled out and finished it with a gulp. The empty container was thrown in a different bag on Marius- Starvas j. Emilius (a name wasted on a short apprentice) and caused a series of clinging making Adynn guess it was the empty bottle bag. They began walking again.
"By the way, you can call me Marius or Starvas. My mother used to be quite the...the flirty type I'd say and it stirred a bit of a...of a problem, finding who my dad is. Marius says it him, Starvas says it's him so I am half of each. Don't know how that's possible".
Adynn laughed freely. She knew he wouldn't have a problem with it. "Is your mother married with both men?"
He nodded. "Feel free to invite yourself sometime in my home if your travels brings you to Rorikstead. I swear, no matter what you are, my dads always know how to entertain you. Just ask around town and they'll tell you".
How nice! Adynn felt flattered. She promised to him it'd be the first thing she'd do if she ever fell to Rorikstead. This man was indeed very kind.You just don't invite people you've just met into your very house and family in times when vampires and werewolves walked amongst the common man unnoticed. She was sure if he was a target for kill right now, she'd have to live with the compunction for months and months.
The terrain slowly starting taking to ascent and the grass- which for a while started sprouting healthily- turned consumptive, frail and yellowish again. Sign of horses and people near. Adynn also noticed a small cutback on the women's pacing. "We're here". Marius announced to his new friend the same time when the camp appeared in front of, under, her eyes. Several tents were set on a deep cavity, around a big fire. Some people stopped what they did to see the arrivals. Nancuria returned their waving and started climbing down the way.
"That's a weird place" Adynn said to Marius.
Nancuria heard what she said and choose to take the answer. "This lake hole did not always exist here. You want to know how it was created?"
"Sure". Unlike Markarth she was interested to know what could possibly punch a hole this big on the ground.
"It's almost over a year ago that happened" she began. As she went on, Marius drifted back with the other person probably having already heard of this story. Adynn tried to descend the rocks leading down to the small camp as quickly as Nancuria in order to not lose words. "The word was, Alduin opened it by tossing a fireball on it. He flew away as soon a dragon began rejuvenating from inside clouds and smokes. Mikael was on a song about this. Let me see..."
Her fingers played with her chin a little trying to bring the melody in her memory. "Ah yes, Prince of skies! Bones who shaped out of fire and smoke, into the a prince of the skies began to form. Our city..." something fit wrong there. Nancuria corrected it. "Our homes soon were left four walls, our heads and our eyes craving until he falls. Should we fool the enemy, one must stand in the center. Show his life will be offered, his name will be song forever. Brave men stood and children run and old- even the women fought. All they died, fewer had even chance to cry, before they all got crisped alive. The Prince of the skies...and the rest. That's all I remember".
Finally they leaped on straight floor. Due to speaking Adynn and Nancuria had stayed back. The others were already cooking something over the logs. "Mikael wrote it?" continued on the subject Adynn as they strolled towards the fire with pase.
"He did. And also I was the very first who he ever read it to. Sadly to him, doing the transforming from poem to bard song just never worked good so he simply let it go. Such a same to my opinion because he has a skill for it, just not the passion. He will always be distracted by women".
"And is this story real?"
"A small part of it as usually. During Hyidd's fight with the dragons, Alduin resurrected dragons out of the very soil. Now if this village ever existed and was just wiped off by a dragon attack then we'll never know. Mikael himself claims that it was a new village that did exist but I wouldn't take oath on his honesty if I were you. As I said, he's going to say anything to have a woman share his bed by the end of the day".
Way too many information about the bard. Maybe Nancuria had her adventures with him as well. "The hole though remains a mystery. Maybe we'll talk about the other versions of it's tale when we talk again" she said vanishing suddenly into a tent.
Adynn looked around to find what to do. In the end she end up on a rock.
She couldn't resist the temptation to shut her eyes and bring Mikael's song into her imagination. If it was true then Adynn was right now sitting inside the tomb of a once dead dragon. Very- very strong feelings of proud overcome the elf. As it was on her nature she flamed to the senses of power raging in her blood. She heard her voice call her out the DRAGONBORN and magical sparks jumped down the rocks.
Shocked she pulled her hands on her chest and looked around. Nobody saw that. Damn destruction magic! Times like this it was too hard to have control over it.
Much unlike her Argonian enemy Adynn had never been any closer to dragon than holding a drawing of one in her hand. That's maybe why she was the only one who experienced such profound feelings of this place.
The odd characteristic of it was the rocky sides when all the rest was covered in grass. Why was nothing growing at the sides? And one more wonder. What use did the healers get from this hole. Just studying the sights? Marius called it something like peace action.
But on top of all came another question which shadowed all others. When Nancuria said Ulfric is waiting for you the day before, that meant that today he was here. Reminding herself quickly that they held him under captivity Adynn felt a little safer again. The rumors didn't have him exactly for the forgiving, welcoming, peaceful man. She started betting in which of the tents would she meet this war thirsty Nord.
What was this place? she suddenly wonder again.
Late at night Nancuria told Adynn where to unfold her bedroll. It was a leather tent kept in fairly excellent condition compared to what surrounded it.
"Am I going to see Ulfric Stormcloak here?" she asked what she had been dying to ask all afternoon while Nancuria had her back turned to her.
Nancuria threw an inexplicable cold eye on the dark elf when she asked that. But answered politely. Tomorrow, she mumbled and left.
Adynn would be accused for such sudden changes in mood in fair bases. One moment the sweet comforter and the next a Deadra lord locked out of his oblivion realms. Up until now she didn't know the confusement she caused until meeting Nancuria. She was fine just this morning. Whatever happened to change her.
She fell on her bed exhausted from everything she heard and saw today.
The region around Whiterun in day, as it looks from the watchtower.