1. Welcome to Skyrim Forums! Register now to participate using the 'Sign Up' button on the right. You may now register with your Facebook or Steam account!
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Hey there, thanks for visiting our fan fiction section. You should only write stories that aren't related to your character's encounters, if you wish to write a story about your character please post an entry in your blog.

    Before reading or writing a story, please make sure to read this thread. Thanks, Guest, and we hope you enjoy this section.

    Dismiss Notice

Spoiler The Bear of Skyrim

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by bulbaquil, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    This fanfic is a total and hopefully less haphazard full rewrite of "The 30th of Frostfall". It is loosely based on my game character Sjadbek. Many questlines will be involved and therefore SPOILER WARNING, but Sjadbek will not participate in all of them.

    Because this is a rewrite, some events may mirror those from "The 30th of Frostfall," but much of the plotline, even what has already been written, has been entirely redone. It is not necessary to read "The 30th of Frostfall" in order to understand this fanfic, and in fact, doing so may be to your detriment.


    CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

    This is a Skyrim fanfic. Skyrim is rated M and starts with a man’s head being chopped off. There will be violence in this fanfiction as well as sexually suggestive dialogue, references to alcohol, drugs, etc. You have been warned. This fanfic is not 18+, however; there will not be graphic depictions of the sexual act, etc.

    SPOILER DECLARATION:
    This fanfic will contain HEAVY spoilers for the Main Quest and Civil War (Stormcloak side), as Sjadbek actively completes these questlines. Lesser spoilers for the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and College of Winterhold questlines will also be present.​
    This fanfic predates Dawnguard. The events of Dawnguard will not feature in this storyline at all - "it never happened". This statement also applies to any future downloadable content or expansions Bethesda will release for Skyrim.​

    OWNERSHIP DISCLAIMER:

    (1) Of course I own Skyrim. I remember going to GameStop and purchasing it. I do not, however, own the intellectual property rights to Skyrim or to The Elder Scrolls (and by extension, any NPCs, locations, etc. in the games). Bethesda owns those.

    (2) I also do not own the characters Penelope, Heron, and Adrianus. Ownership of Penelope appears to be an extremely complicated arrangement between, basically, every male member of the Riften Thieves Guild, but I think Brynjolf and Mercer Frey have the largest shares of ownership. No, in all seriousness, Penelope, Heron, Adrianus, and Carius Serenus are all Docta Corvina’s creations, borrowed from "Kathodos" and included in this fanfic with permission. Jeroo-Shei is the property of ChiefScalyNipplez and included with permission.

    ORIENTATION DISCLAIMER:

    Sjadbek is straight, people. Deal with it. Burdnar, on the other hand...

    DIRECT LINKS TO CHAPTERS:

    Part One:
    Chapter 1: Imperial Justice
    Chapter 2: Under the Rubble
    Chapter 3: Eastward Bound
    Chapter 4: Dovahkiin
    Chapter 5: Among Thieves
    Chapter 6: Love and War
    Chapter 7: Family Ties
    Chapter 8: The Jarl of Riften
    Chapter 9: Season Unending
    Chapter 10: Dreams of Sovngarde
    Chapter 11: Kill or Be Killed
    Chapter 12: The Retaking of Riften
    Chapter 13: For Skyrim!

    Part Two:
    Chapter 14: Imperial Retaliation
    Chapter 15: Magistrix Falmerorum
    Chapter 16: Defense of Windhelm
    Chapter 17: Blood and Empire
    Chapter 18: Unbound
    Chapter 19: As Ulfric Challenged Torygg
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    Latest Given Reputation Points:
    Uthy: 6 Points (Well, I'm slowly catching up!) Aug 14, 2012
  2. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 1: Imperial Justice

    2nd of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 200 | Mid-Afternoon | Somewhere in Hjaalmarch

    Bjaknir son of Steir cursed softly as he made a fourth futile attempt to scratch his itching leg with bound hands. The abandoned shack in the far north of Hjaalmarch had been the perfect hideaway, or so they’d thought. In a previous life, the structure had evidently served as worker lodging and was thus already equipped with multiple cots and bed rolls, a haven for the backs of the Stormcloaks now occupying it. Deep in enemy territory, only a long day’s march from Solitude itself, the sons of Skyrim could have a good night’s rest—even in this thrice-blighted backwater hold.

    But their position had been compromised. The Imperials had stormed in quickly in spite of northern Hjaalmarch’s abysmal late-winter weather, killing the guard patrol and everyone outside and handily and swiftly blockading the door to the shack. The sleeping rebels inside, Bjaknir among them, had been taken prisoner. He had been roughly awakened, his hands already in binds, and forced to start marching barefoot through slushy marsh.

    About mid-afternoon, he felt they should have made it to Morthal by then, but they hadn’t. It didn’t even seem like they were going in that exact direction—they were going south, yes, but the bearing had seemed closer to southwest than southeast.

    Where in Oblivion are they taking us? The Reach?, Bjaknir feared. Perhaps Cidhna Mine was running short on prisoners, and a few pesky Stormcloaks would be the perfect prize for Jarl Igmund. Rorikstead? Why in Stendarr’s name there? It definitely wasn’t Solitude, that was for sure; they were going completely the wrong way for that.

    The looming towers of Fort Snowhawk answered his question.

    Not until he was in a thoroughly unpleasant cell did his Imperial captors cut his bindings loose. There was no bed, not even a bed roll or a hay pile on which to lay; he would be forced to sleep on the hard stone ground of the fort. A meager bucket in which to fulfill certain bodily responsibilities was the only adornment of the cell whatsoever. There were no windows; the only indication as to whether it was day or night was the changing of the guard and by the dispensing of bread and water. No ale or mead for the dirty rebels, of course.

    This was the most ignominious form of existence possible for a Nord, he felt. Far better that he had been caught awake, ready and able to fight, and enjoying the glorious meat and mead of Sovngarde should he have died in the battle. But instead, deprived of any ability to fight physically, Bjaknir turned his fight to the mental realm. A desperate battle waged between the lingering hope of rescue and the despair of continued captivity. He hadn’t even fought, had slept through the whole thing; would Sovngarde welcome one with such an ignoble death?

    Spring passed. Summer passed. The prisoners hardly talked with one another—the guards didn’t like it. As the cold began to set in once again, the forlorn Bjaknir resigned himself to the likelihood that he would spend the rest of his life in this infernal cell in Hjaalmarch—at least until the Imperials saw fit to no longer provide even the scant amounts of bread they were receiving. Frankly, he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t been hauled to the chopping block yet. But it was surely only a matter of time.

    As he slumped against the wall, his chin resting tiredly on his hands, words echoed from his past. Words he had spoken to his little brother the night before he left for Windhelm, as he handed him the scaled helmet that served as the family heirloom. He wasn’t sure why the words came to mind now, but they seemed to ring true in more ways than one.

    Take care of yourself, Sjadbek, he’d said, you’re the last of us left here now.

    ---

    14th of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201 | Mid-Afternoon| Helgen

    Sjadbek pulled the crumpled letter from the bottom of the cabinet shelf it had sat in for ten months, his hands reluctant to go through the motions he requested of them. His brawny frame, built up from swordplay, heavy lifting, general roughhousing, and the ample supply of meat available to butchers, belied the resurgent emotional turmoil that simmered beneath his skin.

    This was the one-year anniversary of the news of the Empire’s discovery of the abandoned shack fort reaching Helgen, an event which the local Imperial soldiers and many of the populace supporting the Empire had met with glee. The Stormcloak supporters such as himself, of course, had met the day with liberal quantities of mead—at least, those who hadn’t been shunted into the stocks in humiliating effigy. In the intervening year, the Imperials had become steadily more oppressive. Sjadbek had himself spent a day of humiliation in the stocks more than once (and the supply of rotten tomatoes Helgen had was truly impressive), though they had at least allowed him to wear his leather armor rather than let his blond hair be stained by tomato juice.

    The courier had taken incredible pains to get this to him—its contents were confidential, of course; the Stormcloaks didn’t exactly publicly broadcast the positions of their forces. It was a considerable gesture of goodwill that the missive, obviously written by either a noble or his scribe, had even been able to be sent—his crush Berdja Fist-Breaker evidently had further family connections than he’d thought—but its contents had been… rather disappointing.

    9 Rain’s Hand 200

    Sjadbek,

    This information is not normally made public knowledge, but your friend was quite persuasive. These words will not please you. Bjaknir was indeed at the Hjaalmarch location that was taken by the Imperials. Whether he was killed or taken captive, we do not know. If he died, I am sure he fought bravely and rests now in Sovngarde. Talos guide him. Do not let him have died in vain. If he was captured, I am sure he is still awaiting his rescue. Stuhn protect him. I hope you’ll be a part of it.

    Destroy this letter.

    -- Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced

    Sjadbek did have to smile at those last few sentences. Only Ulfric and his brass could find a way to turn a “We regret to inform you” letter into a recruitment drive. Only Ulfric would dare.

    He had, of course, not destroyed the letter. He couldn’t bring himself to do it, to sever this tangible link with his brother’s fate, even though he knew it was proof positive that he’d been in communication with Stormcloak officials if they ever decided to crack down on sympathizers as well. The letter read, he put it back where it belonged.

    A Breton hunter entered the butcher shop, the skinned carcasses of two dead deer and six fowl lining her cart. “Had a good hunt then, Marene?” Sjadbek asked. He rather liked Bretons. It had, after all, been a Breton—his sister’s husband, as it happened—who had taught him and Bjaknir how to magically heal themselves, a trick which came in handy for a man prone to getting into scrapes.

    “I did,” she responded. “Are you buying?”

    “I don’t see why I wouldn’t be.” He continued the transaction, which came out to seventy-one septims (after some haggling between 65 and 80).

    As Marene turned to leave, a rather mean-looking Imperial soldier walked in. Sjadbek recognized him as Rodavius Randilus, though the Stormcloak sympathizers and even some of his comrades had dubbed him “Rodavius the Ruthless.” He, too, was sweet on Berdja, which put they at odds even if they had been on the same side of the war. I don’t want to deal with you. Not today, of all days.

    “Interest you in anything today?” the butcher asked him, hoping he was here for legitimate business, but sincerely doubting it. “Brisket? Venison? Mutton chop?”

    “I want to know what’s up between you and Berdja, Stormcloak,” Rodavius demanded. Marene seemed to shrink into the corner nearest the door, not quite willing to leave but not quite willing to stay.

    “That’s for me and Berdja to decide, Imperial. And she doesn’t appear to like you, so I would suggest you leave her alone.”

    “Figures a barbarian like you would say that. I’m sure she’d change her tune if she realized just how much more someone with more culture behind his back could offer.”

    Sjadbek snorted. Rodavius was many things, but cultured was not one of them. Far from it—he doubted the man could even read; he was just playing to the Imperial stereotypes, and a real shame that was, too. Most Cyrodilics he’d met who weren’t part of the Imperial Legion, and even a very small handful who were, seemed like decent enough folk. But to storm into Skyrim and call the locals barbarians when you yourself were illiterate was just… stupid. No doubt he thought himself some kind of hero. There once was a hero called Ragnar the Red, who came riding to Whiterun from old Rorikstead…

    “You here to do business with me, Randilus, or shall I show you the door?” And the braggart did swagger as he brandished his blade and he told of bold battles and the gold he had made… well, in this case, he talked of culture. No doubt he’d start mentioning things like operas and symphonies that would appeal to neither the humble Sjadbek nor the bloodthirsty Rodavius, but that sounded cultural.

    “Oh, I’m here to do business, Stormcloak. With your head!” With little warning, Rodavius raised his massive fists and started heading towards Sjadbek, who dodged to evade the blows. Marene fled the shop, presumably either to alert the guards and/or to protect herself from the crossfire. Fists flew around the shop until Sjadbek managed to get his hands on one of his butcher knives behind the counter, and thrust the implement at his foe.

    [​IMG]

    Standard Legion armor make was good for avoiding blows from swinging swords, but did little to protect against stabbing. Fresh blood from Rodavius’s left shoulder joined the dried animal blood on the ground of the butchery.

    The Imperial ceased the brawl in shock as the guards and Marene walked in. “You stabbed me, you barbarian Stormcloak scum!”

    “You picked a fight in a butcher shop! Did you think I didn’t have knives?”

    “All right, all right, settle down, you two. Let’s all sort this out. You’re coming with us,” the guard said. But he wasn’t pointing at Rodavius.

    Me?” the Stormcloak-sympathetic butcher objected. “He barged into my shop and started hitting me!”

    “It’s true,” the Breton huntress defended—or attempted to defend. “The soldier attacked first. Sjadbek’s not to blame.”

    The guard’s response as he bound the victim’s hands was completely unsympathetic. “Tell it to Jarl Siddgeir in Falkreath, ’cause that’s where you’re going.”

    ---

    15th of Sun’s Dawn, 4E 201 | Late Evening | Falkreath

    Six months for the “crime” of defending myself, Sjadbek thought as Nenya declared his punishment (Jarl Siddgeir, of course, being too busy enjoying his swimming pool of septims to conduct any activity as purely inconsequential as ruling the hold). At least they weren’t sending him to the chopping block, which—given the way Imperials seemed to react lately—wasn’t entirely out of the question.

    It had to be Ulfric’s killing High King Torygg. That was probably why the Empire had become even more unbearable than usual these past two months, jumping at any pretext to lock up his supporters and in some cases entrapping them altogether (such as had happened to him). So much for the vaunted Imperial justice—Tiber Septim would surely not have tolerated such a miscarriage were he still the Emperor. Tiber Septim also would not have likely allowed Talos worship to be banned, on account at least partially of his being Talos. Tiber Septim would have fought the Aldmeri Dominion to the bitter end.

    The guards led him to the Falkreath jail, stripped him of the simple clothes he had been wearing and replaced them with a smelly and scratchy set of ragged robes which looked and felt as if they’d fall off him at any moment. Was this what it was like for Bjaknir, assuming they captured him? Well, not really. Sjadbek’s captivity had a known and definite time limit: he’d be released at dawn on the 16th of Last Seed, and he knew it. Bjaknir—if he was still alive—had no idea when he would be released from Fort Snowhawk, and if the release would come by means of rescue, exchange, transfer, or execution.

    Tired from the forced march and still aching somewhat from the brawl the previous afternoon, Sjadbek curled up in his cell’s bed roll and slept.

    ---

    1st of First Seed, 4E 201 | After Midnight | Falkreath Jail

    The monolith beckoned him, and he obliged. Not that Sjadbek had much choice in the matter; his feet seemed to move forward of their own accord. At the bottom of the great tablet were words written in an alphabet he felt he should know, but didn’t, and above them was a rebus—a grouping of symbols that obviously had some sort of meaning.

    [​IMG]

    The emblems of Stendarr and Talos at the top, flanked by a set of six other symbols—one of them the symbol of the Empire, four of them the bears of Windhelm representative of the Stormcloaks, and then a symbol he did not recognize. One of the Stormcloak emblems, the one next to the unfamiliar symbol, was mirror-imaged, facing the symbol rather than away from it. Obviously this monolith was a vision or a prophecy of some sort. But what could it mean? And what did the writing beneath it mean?

    The monolith began to glow, and Sjadbek reached out to touch it. His body swelled with power, strength, determination—something of that sort. Purpose.

    Then an annoying tapping sound interrupted the… ceremony, for lack of a better word. Whatever barrow or dungeon he was in faded from view to be replaced by his dingy Falkreath cell and the warden tapping on his door.

    “Warden,” Sjadbek spoke, rising to his feet.

    “You one of Ulfric’s boys?”

    There was no point in denying it. “Technically no, but I support him and their cause. I’m here for defending myself against an Imperial soldier who attacked me, probably just because of that. How could you tell?”

    “I could see that fire in your eyes,” the warden explained, keeping his voice to a mere whisper. “A sort of quiet determination. Like you’re not going to let this beat you. You’re fighting. Skyrim needs fighters. This war is in our hearts and minds, not just in iron and steel.”

    “You support them too?” Sjadbek also whispered.

    The warden continued, trying to lower his volume even further than he already had. “I was hired by Jarl Dengeir of Stuhn when he was still in power. I always liked him. He thinks his nephew overthrew him by Imperial trickery. Between you and me, I believe him.”

    Sjadbek remained silent, nodding his head slightly in confirmation.

    “You shouldn’t be here,” said the jailer. “I had better not release you, or I’d likely be thrown in here meself—but I can probably put you on a work detail. Bridges need repair. Roads need new gravel. Put that Stormcloak brawn of yours to good use—no point letting it waste away in a cell for another five and a half months.”

    “What makes you think I won’t try to escape?”

    “You’re one of the most well-behaved prisoners I’ve ever seen,” he replied. “If you were the type to cause problems, you would have done it already.”

    “Mead tastes better with honey than with vinegar.”

    “That reminds me—since you’re going to be paying off your debt to Falkreath Hold for it anyway….” The warden pulled out a familiarly-shaped bottle from his breeches pocket and slipped it through the bars. “A show of trust. Can’t keep a son of Skyrim from his mead now, can I?”

    Sjadbek held the bottle of Nord mead as though it were a cherished keepsake. Praise be to Stendarr, praise be to Talos, praise be to… ah, sure, Zenithar. Why not? “Many thanks to you, Warden.”

    “As I said, you shouldn’t be here. Least I can do is make your sentence a bit more bearable.”

    The warden left Sjadbek to enjoy his mead. He did.

    ---

    17th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | Early Morning | Outside of Helgen

    “Back from Falkreath, boy?” the guard asked Sjadbek as he let the returning ex-prisoner back into the town—without money he’d been forced to make the journey that night in spite of his lack of available weaponry. Fortunately, it was Last Seed in Skyrim, and the nights were short. “I hope they taught you a good lesson as to what happens when you mess with Imperials. If not, well… you’ll find out in a few hours.”

    It wasn’t me who messed with them, he was about to say, but held his tongue. And what did he mean, he’d “find out in a few hours”? Rather than risk getting sent back to Falkreath, he walked back to his butcher shop, which was remarkably well-kept in his absence—Berdja or some of his friends from the Stippled Blade tavern must have maintained it, bless them. A change to proper clothing and borrowing of the coin purse later, and Sjadbek was on his way to the Stippled Blade. It may have been 5:30 a.m. (or so the town clock proclaimed it to be), but after a trip like this, he needed Vilod’s special juniper-berry brew.

    Oddly, it seemed his friends had the same idea. “Ah, Sjadbek, you’re out. Just in time, too,” spoke Hedrik the fletcher, sitting around a table with the sellsword Burdnar the Brazen and the underwater basket-weaver Fjalod Swiftsilver. “Word of advice, don’t say anything that even smacks of being against the Empire today.”

    “What happened?” His three closest friends were, of course, all Stormcloak sympathizers; to hear them talk of not crossing the Empire at all strongly indicated that something Very Bad had happened.

    “Ulfric’s been captured.” Fjalod’s normally pleasant alto took on a dark, angry tone as she relayed the bad news.

    Curse my intuition for being right. “Not possible.” How could he have been? From what Sjadbek had heard, the man primarily strategized from his throne in Windhelm and seldom got involved in the raids and attacks himself. Had the Empire somehow reclaimed Windhelm in his absence? And Riften, Dawnstar, and Winterhold, judging by his apparent lack of anywhere else to have fled to?

    “I don’t know,” muttered Hedrik angrily, “but General Tullius ain’t here on leave. And neither are those Thalmor ****s he’s brought with him.”

    Great. Ulfric captured, likely to be executed, and there are Thalmor here too? The 17th of Last Seed was already shaping up to be a horrible day, and it wasn’t even six in the morning yet. Could this day get any worse?

    “You want to tell him?” Burdnar asked Fjalod with characteristic gruffness. Fjalod murmured something Sjadbek couldn’t make out, followed by Burdnar barking “Well I sure ain’t gonna tell him!”

    “Tell me what?” Sjadbek insisted.

    “Oh, well, apparently Nords of Skyrim is now Stormcloak propaganda, and they caught Berdja reading it,” Fjalod explained, clearly disappointed at best and deeply trying to hide her fury at the idea. “They’re sending her to the block.”

    “The bl—for—” the butcher stammered. Yes, this day could get worse.
     
    • Like Like x 6
    • Creative Creative x 1
    Latest Given Reputation Points:
    Uther Pundragon: 1 Point Jun 12, 2012
  3. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 2: Under the Rubble
    17th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | 8:30 a.m. | Helgen
    Twenty-one minutes prior to Alduin’s attack

    Though Sjadbek was, by all accounts, one of the best butchers in Helgen, this particular act of butchery was of the type he reviled: the spilling of innocent human blood. As he saw it every single Stormcloak should be adjudged not guilty of the crime supposedly levied on them. Who, after all, had it been who had really betrayed the Empire? Was it Ulfric? Hardly. It was Titus Mede II—the Emperor who had betrayed Talos’s Empire by allowing the worship of his founder to be forbidden, who had abandoned the principles of justice for political expediency. As if the sons of Skyrim wouldn’t have bled every last drop of blood they had to save Mankind from the oppression of the Aldmeri Dominion. The sons of Hammerfell certainly would, and did—and won. Ulfric Stormcloak may indeed have betrayed Titus Mede’s “empire.” But false empires were meant to be betrayed. Meant to be discarded and forgotten in favor of the better original. Ulfric understood that. Everyone who sympathized with him did.

    Talos guide all of you, Sjadbek prayed silently as the carts began to roll in. For a time he wanted to believe everyone was lying to him, that it was all just some massive prank, but Ulfric was indeed on the cart, bound and gagged—presumably to block his Voice with which he had “murdered” (as the Imperials saw it) Torygg. The only other person in Stormcloak armor in Ulfric’s cart he vaguely recognized as having been a patron of the Stippled Blade quite fond of Vilod’s special mead (as well as Vilod’s very special mead), and a very occasional customer of his—what was his name, Rodlaf? Ragnof?

    The other two in the cart were in rags—a panicking Nord man who seemed to Sjadbek that although he was definitely going to die today, he also definitely would not be enjoying the glories of Sovngarde, and then… a Breton woman. A completely unfamiliar Breton woman.

    A completely unfamiliar, but extremely attractive, Breton woman, whose rags did a rather ineffective job at hiding her rather ample—

    Sjadbek,” Fjalod scolded, noticing where the butcher’s eyes were looking. “She’s as dead as Berdja is, don’t even—HEDRIK!” The wiry fletcher was betrothed to Fjalod, and looked particularly unhappy about having his gaze interrupted. Burdnar was also staring, but nobody bothered scolding him—they simply expected that of him.

    “Shut up so I can hear what they call her,” Burdnar insisted.

    Fjalod sighed loudly. “Does it even matter?”

    The carriages pulled up, and Hadvar, the Legion regular dispatched to read the list of names of those to be executed, spoke. “Anmar of Karthwasten.” A haggard-looking man in full Stormcloak regalia stepped forth. Followed by—

    “Berdja of Helgen.” So soon? Sjadbek thought. Were they going to go in order, or...?

    Berdja descended from the steps, wearing a set of fine charcoal-grey clothes, the same set she had been wearing when he’d first met her. She cast one last, forlorn look at Sjadbek as though hoping he would run up and tell Hadvar there’d been some sort of mistake.

    But he couldn’t do it. Not with what had to be millions of Imperial soldiers skulking about—archers on the battlements ready to shoot down anyone who dared interrupt the event.

    Hadvar continued to call out names until he got to Ulfric’s cart. After Ulfric himself and Ralof—that’s what the man’s name was—of Riverwood got out of the cart with the dignity appropriate for stalwart soldiers facing their imminent death, “Lokir of Rorikstead” decided to liven up the festivities, and was promptly shot down by a bevy of arrows, at least one of which was to the knee.

    “Why am I not surprised?” Hedrik muttered.

    The final person off the cart was the unknown Breton. Apparently even Hadvar List-Reader didn’t know who she was, and had to ask. Sadly for Burdnar and Hedrik, and likely mercifully for Fjalod (Sjadbek was too busy desperately trying to wish Berdja off the block line), her response was too faint for them to hear—evidently only Hadvar and the stentorian Legion captain did as they conferred with each other about something before sending her to the block. Had there been a problem, or had Hadvar simply succumbed to the same mentality Sjadbek and his (male) friends had?

    “Five septims they chop her head off first,” Hedrik muttered as Tullius began his monologue about Ulfric having killed Torygg with the Voice.

    Ten septims they do it last. Wait—next to last, they’d want Ulfric last,” retorted Burdnar.

    You’re betting on this?!” Sjadbek hissed in incredulity. They were treating this execution—Berdja’s execution! Ulfric’s execution!—like it was some sort of game to be won!

    “As we commend your souls to Aetherius, blessings of the Eight Divines upon you—”

    Nine Divines, Sjadbek mentally corrected as a redheaded Stormcloak Hadvar had announced as Leifurd of Windpeak walked to the block of his own accord, interrupted the last rites demanding to hurry it up as though he had an important appointment for which punctuality was critical. The headsman obliged by chopping his head off.

    “This is not how it works,” Sjadbek muttered, “The man butchers the swine—the swine doesn’t butcher the man.”

    Immediately after saying that, he could have sworn the Imperial captain turned her head towards him and winked as she announced the next executee. “Berdja of Helgen!”

    Sjadbek buried his head, a steady stream of tears starting to roll down the normally stoic man’s face, as Hedrik and Burdnar gripped his shoulders. WhyBerdja? Why did they have to take her from the world, from him? Far better that he have been the one to stand on the block—he’d been spared by sheer luck and timing. Most likely if Rodavius had waited five months, he would be on the block. But Berdja… she didn’t deserve this. She’d been trying to stay neutral in the war! All she’d done was have Nords of Skyrim visible, and that wasn’t Stormcloak propaganda—he’d read it!

    Thwack. The headsman’s axe Sjadbek didn’t see it, didn’t want to see the innocent, cherished blood spilling out, couldn’t bear the thought of watching her lovely head roll away from her equally lovely body. “Arkay—guide you—to Sovngarde, Berdja,” he muttered haltingly as he tried to compose himself.

    “Next, the Breton!” An unusual, high-pitched roar sounded as soon as the Imperial captain condemned her to die… third, of all orders in which to go.

    “You owe me ten septims, Burd—what was that?” Hedrik asked. The roar had evidently paused the execution as well, as both the Stormcloaks in line for the block and the Imperials had stopped to look.

    “It’s Stendarr pissed off that they killed—” Sjadbek began, but he too had no clue what the sound was. In all honesty, it sounded vaguely terrifying and not at all Stendarr-ish.

    “I said, next prisoner!” demanded the martinet, obviously disgruntled that her beloved execution was being interrupted by such minor inconveniences as approaching dragons. Hadvar led the Breton woman gently to the block, looking quite as though he did not want to do this. Many of the attending Legionnaires also had a disappointed look on their faces.

    Then the dragon landed atop the tower nearest the headsman’s block, causing the ground to tremble. The executioner fell over, missing his mark, and accidentally chopping off the lower leg of the already-dead Stormcloak who “hadn’t got all morning.” Pandemonium ensued as the Imperial soldiers attempted to protect General Tullius going one way and the Stormcloaks no longer about to be executed (at least by a headsman’s axe) tried to protect Ulfric and escape. One of them—Ralof—beckoned the Breton woman to follow her.

    “Correction—it’s Akatosh pissed off that they killed her!”

    “I think he’s just pissed off!” called out Fjalod over the suddenly noisy village. “And I don’t think that’s Akatosh, either!”

    The dragon ended his torrent of fire, and turned his head to face Sjadbek directly. “I… think we should run now,” the butcher suggested. “My place. The cellar. Move!”

    The four of them sprinted to Sjadbek’s shop as Alduin continued his fiery rage at Helgen’s expense. Hedrik arrived first and opened the hatch leading down to the cellar, practically sliding down the ladder. Fjalod and Burdnar followed him down. As Sjadbek was about to descend himself, out of the corner of his eye he saw Ralof and Ulfric, fully unbound, rushing towards the butchery, and beckoned them to join him.

    The Jarl of Windhelm descended Sjadbek’s ladder first, followed by his lieutenant. About half a second after Ralof descended, the dragon’s tail swiped over the row of small businesses that included the shop. Sjadbek tumbled through the open hatch as the upper floor of the butchery began to give way, spilling his personal belongings onto the ground below. By some miracle, the scaled helmet that was his family heirloom managed to roll into the hatch, bouncing off a ladder rung and clattering to the floor in front of its owner.

    Sjadbek himself let out a groan of pain as he limped to a corner away from the hatch, his left leg which he’d landed on clearly injured. “Probably a sprain. Maybe a break,” he muttered as Fjalod rushed over to try to set it. But he rebuffed her, moving his hands over the injured body part and focusing his mental energies. An effulgent white glow radiated from his hands—the healing spell in action, the bit of magic he’d learned from his Breton brother-in-law who had taken his sister Martje to Daggerfall in wedlock.

    “Oh, right,” Fjalod stated. “I forgot Bedryn taught you magical healing. Day like this, it comes in handy.”

    Several tense minutes passed, and then Hedrik spoke. “I can hardly believe it. I thought dragons were just legends.”

    “Legends don’t burn down villages,” Ulfric Stormcloak replied flatly.

    “R-right, m-my apologies, Lord Ulfr-fric, sir,” Hedrik stammered as he bowed, having evidently forgotten whose company he was in.

    “This is neither the time nor place for courtly formalities. I am indeed Jarl of Windhelm, but I am as surprised as you to see a dragon here. Speak to me as you normally would,” he smiled. “But I would like to be properly introduced to my rescuers.”

    “Jarl of Windhelm and true High King of Skyrim, let’s not forget that last part!” Burdnar boomed. At this, Ulfric smiled and let out a pleasant laugh. “It’s nice to be in friendly company again,” the leader of the rebellion stated.

    “My name’s Hedrik, sir. Hedrik the fletcher. This is my…”

    “We’re lovers. Fjalod Swiftsilver.”

    “Burdnar the Brazen, and the one healin’ himself is Sjadbek the butcher. He’s the one who actually deserves the credit for rescuing you.”

    “And he has my sincerest gratitude,” Ulfric responded. He felt he recognized the name from somewhere, but couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

    “I am Ralof of Riverwood,” the man in proper Stormcloak armor introduced himself. Of course, Hadvar had called out his name before the aborted execution, so everyone present already knew it. “I guess it was lucky for us that dragon attacked when it did, eh? I wasn’t exactly looking forward to getting a shave from the Imperial headsman.”

    “Neither was I, Ralof, but we are in the presence of fellow sons and daughters of Skyrim who’ve just lost their hometown,” the jarl of Windhelm gently chided. “Let’s show a little dignity, shall we?”

    Sjadbek terminated the spell, and stood up, picking up and putting on the scaled helmet beside him. The limp in his step was noticeably weaker than it had been after he first fell—his healing spell had obviously been effective. “I just wish that dragon had arrived two minutes before it did,” he stated. “Then they wouldn’t have—wouldn’t have gotten to Berdja.”

    [​IMG]

    Berdja! That’s where Ulfric had heard Sjadbek’s name before. Berdja’s family, the Fist-Breakers, had had ties to the Shatter-Shields for generations; she’d inquired about the whereabouts of Bjaknir, Sjadbek’s brother. Which reminded him…

    “I am sorry,” Ulfric attempted to console the butcher. “I have news on Bjaknir.”

    “Will I like it?”

    “Perhaps. As of the twelfth of Mid-Year—again, this is two months ago, mind you—but as of that date, Bjaknir was and remained prisoner in Fort Snowhawk in Hjaalmarch.”

    Bjaknir’s alive,” Sjadbek breathed. Not half an hour ago, he had thought this would be a completely horrible day—and it was a rather lousy day—but this one bit of news brightened it as much as his heavy heart allowed it to be brightened.

    The Helgen residents in Sjadbek’s cellar spent the next quarter hour describing, in vivid detail, how grand it would be to storm into Fort Snowhawk and bring him out of there. Ulfric simply smiled.

    “Are there any weapons in here?” Ralof asked. “We’ll need them when we leave.”

    “Right, we can’t exactly stay here anymore.” Sjadbek rummaged through the drawers and alcoves in the cellar. This was where he stored much of his butchering materials, but weapons he was a little short on. “I’ve got… my own sword, for traveling,” he spoke as he put on the scabbard for the steel broadsword that was his lifeblood on the road, “two daggers mostly meant for skinning, and of course several butcher knives. No armor but my own leathers, I’m afraid. I’d best put those on before we leave.”

    “Fully covered,” Burdnar proclaimed. As a mercenary for hire, he hardly left his permanent room at the inn without his sturdy, heavy armor on and greatsword at the ready.

    “Of course you’d be,” Hedrik responded. “Jarl Ulfric, you and Ralof can take the daggers. We’ll take the knives.”

    “I accept this,” Ulfric declared. “We have an encampment not more than twenty miles from here. I am certain I could arrange that you get proper weapons and armor there. I am, after all, leader of our rebellion. Or we could scavenge Helgen once the fires die down but before the bandits move in. I haven’t heard the dragon roaring for some time now. But where will you go?”

    It was a good question. Where would they go? Helgen had been destroyed. If it had been under any circumstances other than the ones they found themselves in, Sjadbek would have said Falkreath or Riverwood. But with Ulfric right there and with the knowledge that, if Berdja could not be recovered, at least Bjaknir might be able to be saved—his choice was obvious.

    “I might go to the College of Winterhold,” Hedrik said, surprising his friends.

    “Don’t you have to be, I don’t know, a mage for that?” Burdnar asked. Hedrik responded by sending an unpleasant fog of ice Hedrik’s way.

    “Frostbite spell,” Hedrik explained.

    “When did you learn destruction magic? And when were you planning on telling us?” Sjadbek demanded.

    “Start of Sun’s Height. Burdnar was adventuring with a client just over the Hammerfell border, and of course you were stewing in Falkreath jail on account of the Legion are jerks. And I was planning on telling you when I’d mastered the spark spell as well, but I haven’t quite got it down yet.”

    “Actually,” Fjalod responded, “he was planning on telling you on Burdnar’s birthday. By shocking him awake.” That was the fifth of Hearthfire, not too long away—it wasn’t all that unreasonable. “But these seemed like more interesting circumstances to do it in. Ah, well, if Hedrik’s going to Winterhold I suppose I’d better go with him. Not sure what if anything there is to do up there if you’re not in the College, but….”

    Burdnar spoke. “I’ll go where Sjadbek goes, and I think I have a good idea as to what that would be.”

    “You’re a good friend to me, Burdnar,” Sjadbek responded. “As for me, Jarl Ulfric…” he continued, his body steeling with determination, “There is, of course, nothing left for me here anymore. My mother is long since dead—I barely knew her. My father is long since dead. My sister is in Daggerfall and Talos knows if she’ll ever be back. And Berdja—I want to fight for Bjaknir and Berdja. I want to take Hjaalmarch, storm Fort Snowhawk, and bring him back to friendly soil alive. I want to see the head of every Thalmor and Thalmor-supporter in Skyrim on a bloody skewer. I want to see the Legion driven back to Cyrodiil, where it belongs. I want to stop living under the boot of a false empire created by a dynasty that shows nothing but disgust for the Septim legacy, that spits on Talos! And as a devout follower of Stendarr… how long is it going to be before the Thalmor realize he’s of Nordic origin too? How long before ‘the Seven Divines’?”

    “As good a speech as I could ever give,” Ulfric complimented quietly after a pause sufficiently long to make it clear that Sjadbek was finished. “Your loyalty is undeniable, of course, and your spirit strong. All that remains to be seen is your skill with a blade, and I am sure you will not disappoint. I’ve not heard the dragon roar for some time now. I suspect it is gone. We should make haste back to Windhelm. The news of my capture and impending execution will have already reached it—it would be wise to inform my loyal hold that my death is in fact not so impending. We have a long march ahead of us, Sjadbek; if you wish to heal yourself further, you should do so now before we depart.”

    “I’ll be fine,” he responded. “Berdja and Bjaknir need me fighting. Skyrim needs me fighting.” And indeed it was true. Skyrim needed Sjadbek—and far more than he could have possibly realized at the time.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 3: Eastward Bound

    22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201 | Mid-Afternoon | Black-Briar Meadery | Riften

    In many ways, Maven Black-Briar was already the jarl of Riften, despite her non-possession of the title. Not that this was any surprise; recent estimates showed that the Black-Briar family, of which she was matriarch, controlled nearly five percent of Skyrim’s gross domestic product by itself. The only reason Laila Law-Giver was still the jarl was because, for some reason she could not fathom, the Dark Brotherhood refused to provide her with an assassin. She must have tried the Black Sacrament at least once a day over the past ten months, safe in the security and secrecy of her cellar, and still she was not granted a killer.

    Perhaps it was simply that Astrid favored the Stormcloaks? Maven knew that the Empire’s private security force had been attempting to crack down on the Dark Brotherhood’s activity in Skyrim for years now, so the idea wasn’t entirely unreasonable. Certainly, if she favored the Stormcloaks she might be loath to kill a jarl who also favored them without assurance that the next jarl would also favor them, no matter how good the payment. But so what? Maybe Harrald takes the throne, but then, after having his brother Saerlund executed for favoring the Imperials, no doubt he blunders through his own self-absorbed incompetence much like Jarl Siddgeir in Falkreath.

    Not to mention that if that was the case, why was General Tullius still alive? Or was every single Stormcloak and Stormcloak sympathizer so bound by honor that they wouldn’t even dream of embroiling themselves in the necessary subterfuge? Could it really be that hard to send a Stormcloak-favoring assassin in in Imperial armor? Ulfric—or rather, his voice—was his own security, but she had been to Castle Dour and found it woefully underdefended. Children were playing inside the map room, for crying out loud!

    On the other hand, the continuation of the civil war likely favored the Dark Brotherhood as much as it favored the Aldmeri Dominion. Dead bodies along the roads, obviously killed by manmade weaponry, were not altogether rare in Skyrim to begin with (bandits and such), but fewer questions would be asked. Maven was certain Astrid would have asked her hires to loot the marks whenever possible, to make it look as though bandits had done the deed.

    But if they were unaffiliated, they wouldn’t have any political reason to leave Laila alive, certainly not when the pay was this good. Maven had raised it several times, thinking it insufficient—from five thousand septims to six, six to seven, seven to eight, and then finally eight to ten. Ten thousand gold would likely persuade anyone to try, especially assassins who were paid to do these sorts of things on a regular basis, but it apparently didn’t. She was loath to raise the fee once more. If it hadn’t been politics, it certainly wasn’t for financial reasons. Which left simple, shoddy, unprofessional workmanship.

    Shoddy professional workmanship such as that lout of a Breton she’d hired three weeks ago was now exhibiting as he struggled to move a crate of empty mead bottles at the speed Maven demanded. “Move faster, Breton, or I’ll find someone else who can. And mind you don’t drop it, or you’ll be paying for those bottles.” She didn’t know why she had hired him anyway—she usually didn’t hire Bretons. It had nothing to do with a dislike of the race as such, it was more that their diminutive frames made them poorly suited for quick movement of heavy objects that was often required in the meadery. Not to mention Bretons tended to tire of low salaries more quickly than the Dunmer and Argonians did—she paid the latter two much better than anything they’d have gotten in Ulfric’s Windhelm, to be sure, but even so…

    Besides, Maven couldn’t really afford to be racist against Bretons. Too many of them in high places. And at any rate, she had heard the news of Ulfric’s capture near Darkwater Crossing—the news had long since reached Riften (the news of the Helgen attack and Ulfric’s escape, however, had not), and with it the Stormcloak Rebellion was likely to fade away anyway.

    “Madam Black-Briar,” one of her stewards, Teratus Biacchi, notified, “we’ve received word that there might be a Stone of Barenziah in the barrow of Yngvild, north of Dawnstar.”

    “Excellent. Find an adventurer or sellsword willing to make the trip. Get the same one as from Stony Creek Cave if you can. He keeps what he finds, save the Stone. Set the reward… 750 gold, given the distance. No, make it 800; it’ll be Hearthfire at least before one makes it there.”

    She sat down in the meadery’s plushest chair and mused over the stones of Barenziah, which together with the Eyes of the Falmer and a bit of ancient Dwemer ritual should, if all went well, grant her command of the vast Falmer army that lurked in the deeps of Skyrim. Already she had two of the twenty-four Stones in her possession—the one from Stony Creek Cave, currently residing in her manor, and one that Mercer had managed to acquire for her as part of a “business dealing” in Balmora four years ago—her first of the Stones, currently under heavy guard in the Black-Briar Lodge east of Riften. If Yngvild panned out, she would have three.

    Oh, she knew—or at least suspected—where many more were, of course. Many of them in the family homes of other wealthy individuals—if the Thieves Guild weren’t botching nearly every job that came their way nowadays, he’d send them out after them. There was one in the Jarl of Riften’s bedchamber, which would be hers if she ever managed to actually become Jarl. That would be the easiest. Then there was likely one in the chambers of each of the other Jarls of the major holds—Solitude, Whiterun, Windhelm, and Markarth. If Ulfric had truly been captured and sent to his execution, Windhelm would now be in an interregnum—easier to infiltrate. Perhaps she should send someone to investigate?

    She left the meadery and made her way to the Bee and Barb. The tavern was in outright pandemonium, with conversations going every which way. The Snow-Shods who frequented the tavern appeared in a state of jubilation; other patrons appeared angered, still others looked deeply terrified.

    Maul happened to be in the tavern as well, and looked pleased at the arrival of his charge. “You wouldn’t happen to know what exactly has got the tavern in a row?” Maven asked her most loyal, most valuable bodyguard as they retreated to the upstairs.

    “Yeah. News Helgen got destroyed and Ulfric’s escaped.”

    “Is the source to be trusted, or is this a Stormcloak lie to keep the rebellion up?”

    “Well, it’s from a Legion soldier, claims t’ve been there. They wouldn’t want them Stormcloak types to get all happy about something like that if it weren’t the truth. Said a dragon did it, though. Have to say I’m havin’ trouble believin’ that one.”

    Maven harrumphed. “I’m going to send someone to Helgen and see if it truly is destroyed. And I was intending on sending someone to Windhelm as it was already; if Ulfric Stormcloak really has escaped execution, he is likely well on his way back to the Throne of Ysgramor, if he’s not returned already.”

    ---

    25th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | Late Morning | Dragonsreach | Whiterun

    Mara smite you, Penelope; how did you sweet-talk me into doing this? Sven asked as he made his way to Jarl Balgruuf’s court mage Farengar Secret-Fire, I delve through freaking Bleak Falls Barrow, nearly die from that deranged draugr at the end—my beautiful face marred with battle scars, and all I get is a kiss? At least Camilla won’t be as angry with me…

    Now he was stuck doing the Jarl’s bidding, being asked to deal with the mage’s “dragon project,” whatever that was—but it didn’t sound pleasant. On the other hand, women did rather like the right kind of battle scars, especially here in Skyrim as they were a sign of combat survival. On the other other hand, particularly wealthy adventurers could afford healing potions to wipe those scars away before they actually settled…

    Whatever. Sven was a citizen of Whiterun Hold—best hold in all Skyrim—and his Jarl had given him a task. He was bound by law and honor to carry it out.

    Really?” Farengar nearly jumped at seeing who Balgruuf had provided for his task, obviously not expecting a bard of all people. Most likely Farengar expected the Jarl to furnish him with a mercenary type with bulging muscles and a battleaxe on his back, preferably someone with the ability to shout dragons from the sky, belch fire and ice, and thrust giants off cliffs with a single word. Unfortunately for Balgruuf, that person was over a hundred miles away and approaching Windhelm with certain other Jarls who may or may not have led rebellions against certain empires. “Well, if he insists, but….”

    Sven half-expected the mage to call him a milk-drinker. And what in Oblivion was Delphine doing here?

    “I heard of a certain stone tablet said to be housed within Bleak Falls Barrow,” Farengar introduced. “Find the tablet, then bring it to me. Simplicity itself.”

    If “simplicity” entailed the slaughter of bandits, draugr, giant spiders, a silly dark elf who had managed to get himself entangled in a spider web, more draugr, and still more draugr, all the while trying to avoid getting killed yourself by the enemies and traps in the ancient Nordic ruin, then yes, yes it was “simplicity itself.” At the very least, he’d gotten half of the gems, barrow-gold, and reward for returning the Golden Claw, and had equipped himself with some proper fur armor the bandits had been wearing. After selling the gems to the jewelers in town, he was sitting pretty on more than six hundred septims—a rather tidy sum to have all at once, though he figured that was likely how adventuring worked.

    “I… might have already found the tablet.” Sven started sheepishly.

    “You already found the Dragonstone?” the court wizard enthused. “Well, where is it?”

    “Well,” he stammered, “I, um, no longer, um, have it. It was part of my—shield-sister’s”—was that the right word in this situation?—“share of the loot. She left Riverwood the other way, going to Riften; it’s likely well on its way by now.”

    “Off to Riften you go, then,” Farengar barked. “The Jarl is not known for his patience. Neither am I.”

    ---

    25th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | Late Morning | Helgen Ruins

    Unfortunately for Penelope, the quickest way to Riften from Riverwood was back the way she had been forced to traverse in binds. Through Helgen—or what was left of it.

    The fires from the dragon’s attack had long since died out—likely the doing of the rain showers that had fell on Riverwood in the early morning of the 18th of Last Seed coupled with the loss of sufficient kindling. Charred and smashed timbers lay where buildings were supposed to be; corpses lined the streets—civilian, Legion, and Stormcloak alike.

    The corpse of the rebel soldier who was so eager to rush to death that he’d interrupted the last rites remained lying there by the deserted chopping block, emitting the stench of death into the sky. “Murderers,” Penelope muttered, kicking the dead Stormcloak in the thigh. Obviously he did not react beyond the miniscule reaction necessitated by the laws of physics, but it made the Breton feel better.

    It would have made her feel better still if she had someone like Hadvar to help her out. He’d been such a nice man from the very beginning, even if he hadn’t the power to avert her execution. At least he’d assured her that her remains would have been returned to Cheydinhol—it was really the only thing he could do. The Imperial captain who’d ordered her death outranked her, and in all fairness there had really been no way she could prove to her she wasn’t a Stormcloak. In her haste to Skyrim to acquire more information about her dearly departed father, she… might have neglected to take the appropriate papers with her.

    From what she’d heard about Riften, she somehow doubted anyone there would care. At dinner that night in the house of Alvor, Riverwood’s blacksmith and Hadvar’s uncle, Hadvar had let her know what she most needed to know about Riften: it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant place in Skyrim. Largely lawless, Stormcloak-sided, but if it’s information one was after, one could acquire it—for the right price. Penelope had an unfortunately shrewd idea of what “the right price” might be.

    As she pressed further east, she encountered a still-intact gate that had somehow been left locked. The key obviously nowhere to be found, she pulled out the picks—both those Hadvar had given her in Helgen’s keep and the ones she’d found in Bleak Falls Barrow—and picked the gate lock open. The rubble of Helgen gave way to the vistas of Skyrim’s southern mountains, the massive Throat of the World, tallest mountain in all Tamriel since the Red Mountain eruption, looming to the north. The road was the same as the one she’d been carted along with bloody Ulfric Stormcloak himself, but so much more tolerable now that she was going the right way along it.

    Riften, Riften, you flighty city, just as much Morrowind as Skyrim, she thought to herself. What do you hold for me? Answers about my father? Daggers to the back? Dashing redheaded Nordic scam artists selling dubious wares?

    The answer, of course, would be a little more.

    ---

    26th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | About 2 a.m. | Seven Miles South of Windhelm

    They weren’t that far from Windhelm now. In the distance, with the moons and auroras lighting up the sky, Ulfric could see the looming towers of his hometown, the headquarters of his rebellion. They would make the rest of the trip come first light, arriving in the brilliant mid-morning, as the sun peaked over the Gray Quarter’s ramparts—why did the dark elves so refuse to involve themselves when things would go so much more smoothly for them if they did?—amidst cries of support and joy from the many, many who supported him that the Empire hadn’t seen the last of him after all. He could picture Galmar’s reaction—jubilant that his dear friend and comrade from the Great War lived still, and angry that he didn’t allow him to come with him—“I would have beaten down Tullius and his archers with my hands still bound!”

    It was not the most emotional homecoming for the man—that had been his return to Windhelm after his six-year imprisonment in Markarth’s notorious Cidhna Mine, after his father Halmeir Stormcloak, the Great Bear of Eastmarch, had succumbed to death, when an angry and mournful city had put him on the throne. It was not even his second-most emotional homecoming, when Jarl Igmund (who would later betray him) begged him to round up some men to take the Reach back from the Forsworn. He’d scarcely been gone a month from Windhelm, and he’d been closer to Sovngarde many times prior to standing on that blighted headsman’s block.

    He turned his head and looked at the man standing watch beside him, surprisingly calm given what had happened to him eight days ago—nine now. The Stormcloak cuirass he’d gotten from the Falkreath camp suited him well. Sjadbek removed the scaled helmet he normally wore, allowing his hair to waft in the breeze, and cradled it in his hands.

    “I’m almost to Windhelm, brother,” Ulfric heard the butcher speak softly to the helmet. “I’ll break you out of Fort Snowhawk soon, I guarantee it. Berdja, my sweetheart… we’ll meet again in Sovngarde. Talos guide us all.”

    Sjadbek put the helmet back on as Ulfric approached him. “You’re taking this rather well,” the Jarl of Windhelm spoke. In many ways the two were kindred spirits—unfairly jailed, betrayed by an Empire more willing to kowtow to the Thalmor than to defend its people, had friends and family die while they were powerless to do anything about it. Warm-hearted souls embittered by too many injustices.

    As far as Ulfric was concerned, he and his friends had all proven their worth. Together they’d taken down a cave bear a day out of the Falkreath Stormcloak camp and had all lived to tell the tale—and with remarkably few scratches. Admittedly, Ulfric had Unrelentingly Forced the bear into a tree beforehand, but it was still an impressive kill. The pelt had made for a handful of makeshift baskets they could store the bear meat in—with some salt Sjadbek had salvaged from his cellar before they left to preserve it—and two decent if hefty bed rolls, one of which he hauled himself and the other of which Hedrik hauled (Burdnar’s heavy mercenary armor, they figured, weighed him down enough, and Fjalod largely carried the baskets).

    “Her crime was to be proud of her heritage, of our traditions, of our homeland,” he muttered softly, clearly trying to avoid weeping in front of the leader of the rebellion. “If the Empire’s going to spit on Skyrim—I won’t let them. Berdja would want me to fight, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I just—I wish I could have wrenched the headsman’s axe from his hand before he had the chance to use it.”

    “If I hadn’t been gagged so tightly, I would have,” Ulfric responded venomously. It would have been so easy, too—one simple word and the instrument of death would have been taken from the executioner’s hand. From everything he’d heard, she did not deserve to die, not even in the slightest. May her soul find peace in Sovngarde.

    “You can do that?” Sjadbek asked, somewhat surprised. “I knew you’d learned how to Shout with the Graybeards and all, but there’s a Shout for that?”

    “Indeed there is,” Ulfric responded. As he had seen the Graybeards do so often when introducing Shouts, he moved his hand in the appropriate gesture and willed the Word of Power to reveal itself on the ground between him and Sjadbek. “Zun.”

    The effulgent draconic lettering appeared in the dirt, and Ulfric continued his explanation. “The word means ‘Weapon’—as in ‘rid my enemy of it.’ Adventurers delving into Nordic ruins have told me the draugr are rather—”

    He stopped speaking as he saw Sjadbek seemingly absorbing something from the Word of Power. Something he had heard could be done only by—

    “But surely—” breathed Ulfric Stormcloak, realizing the implications. Unless his suppositions were very much mistaken, beside him stood not only the end to the civil war, but very possibly the end of the Thalmor as well.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 4: Dovahkiin

    26th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | 8:45 a.m. | Windhelm

    So this is Windhelm, thought Sjadbek as, for the first time in his life, he entered the vaunted city of Ysgramor, the once and future capital of Skyrim. In many ways it was as he’d always pictured it: strong, bold, and powerful—the way a Nordic city should be. About forty-three thousand people within its walls, Ulfric had told him on the way according to a recruiting census that he’d conducted in 193—thirty-four thousand Nords, four thousand Dunmer refugees from Morrowind, four thousand Imperials (the race—there were certainly no Legionnaires in Windhelm), and fourteen hundred of the other non-beast races, most of those Breton.

    The Argonian population of Windhelm could be best obtained from Torbjorn Shatter-Shield’s payroll records, of course. The Khajiit population was on the order of zero.

    It wasn’t the biggest city Sjadbek had been in, to be fair. He’d gone to Whiterun once when he was nine, and being a child made the large city (population sixty thousand plus) seem all the bigger. But Windhelm… it was Ysgramor’s city, the glory of Eastmarch and of Skyrim. Also, he was entering it with the Jarl—he hadn’t even met the Jarl of Whiterun. Balgruuf, his name was? The Jarl of Falkreath, on the other hand, he was aware of—and Falkreath Hold sincerely was due for a change in leadership.

    Even though it was still Last Seed, a distinct chill could be felt in the air, a sign of the oncoming Windhelm winter. First frost in the city of Ysgramor was typically between the tenth and fifteenth of Hearthfire, not all that far away. But the substantial geothermal activity in the south of Eastmarch meant that the towns of Kynesgrove and Mistwatch could delay their harvests to mid- or even late Frostfall with no harm done, and the city as a whole was seldom on the brink of starvation. At least, its Nords weren’t.

    The sun blinked behind and in front of clouds as Ulfric and his five makeshift guards made their way towards the venerable Palace of the Kings. As they did so, a rather intimidating but very pleased man in a bearskin helm rushed out to greet him.

    Ulfric!” he exulted.

    “Galmar,” responded the Jarl of Windhelm, laughing happily.

    “I thought Tullius had captured you and I’d have to deliver your eulogy.”

    “No doubt you’d hate that,” Ulfric affirmed. “Tullius did capture me, but…well, it’s a long story. We’d best go inside the palace.”

    They did, introducing themselves to Galmar in the process. Sjadbek stared past the long dining table to the throne at the back of the chamber. Ysgramor’s throne, less than fifty feet away from him. A duo of guards coming out of the barracks to the right saluted the Jarl and expressed their gratitude at his safe return. Windhelm must be quite pleased, especially if they’d heard he’d been captured, Sjadbek thought.

    “Please, sit,” Ulfric requested of his guests and Galmar, and they did, Ulfric joining them beside his trusted housecarl. “Darkwater was an ambush. I can’t believe I fell for that! Had us in binds before we knew what was happening. They carted us off to Helgen to be executed, along with a handful of local dissidents, a cowardly horse thief, and a young Breton woman who had insisted her father had been in the Legion…” The Stormcloak leader trailed off, looking deep in thought as though something had just occurred to him.

    Galmar muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “Imperial bastards,” and which probably was. “I can’t even remember the last Breton to join our ranks! They thought she was one of us?”

    “Indeed. Ralof and I were destined for the chopping block, of course, but Tullius as usual wanted to pontificate first. Imperials never miss the opportunity to give a speech. Anmar died first. Then they killed Berdja, his lover”—he gestured to Sjadbek, who looked despondent—“for doing nothing more than having Nords of Skyrim on her bedside table, and then they were going to kill the Breton. They didn’t get to her. A dragon attacked.”

    “A dragon? This is some sort of joke?”

    “I am not joking, Galmar. Ralof will tell you the same thing. So will our guests. If not for that dragon, we’d be dead and they’d still be in Helgen. Well, at least until the Legion decided to kill them too. Seems we’re all branded villains these days.”

    Galmar gave a “Hmm” that sounded more like a grunt than anything—of course, everything that comes out of Galmar’s mouth could fairly easily be described as a grunt.

    “If dragons have indeed returned to Skyrim,” Ulfric muttered, “we may have bigger worries on our hands than simply the Imperials.”

    “But on the other hand,” Galmar countered, “the Imperials would have bigger worries on their hands than us.”

    “That’s true.”

    “And what of our guests here?” Ulfric’s housecarl wondered, looking at Sjadbek in particular with steely eyes.

    They largely responded the same way they had to Ulfric back in the cellar of the Helgen butchery. Galmar expressed a mixture of skepticism and exasperation at Hedrik’s intent to go to the College of Winterhold—he clearly was not a big fan of the Thalmor’s primary mechanism of attack—and, for reasons that should be obvious, considerably more warmth to Sjadbek and Burdnar’s intent to join the Stormcloaks.

    “Well then,” the Stormcloak second-in-command replied, slapping Sjadbek on the back with one hand and Burdnar with the other as a big smile grew on his face, “you’ve come to the right place.”

    ---

    30th of Last Seed, 4E 201 | 9:43 p.m. | Just north of Mistwatch

    The south of Eastmarch was pleasant, florid, and honestly rather impressed Sven of Riverwood, who had never been to this part of Skyrim. The hot springs near the small town of Mistwatch, where the carriage had stopped for the night, soothed the bard’s soul and his muscles. The region was downright warm—smacking of a Cyrodiil summer rather than a Skyrim one.

    The downside of the south of Eastmarch was that it was close to the Rift, which while it was operated by Stormcloaks in theory was in practice run by thieves and their little guild. He’d sung his songs for them, taking careful pains to make sure it was “The Age of Oppression” he sung rather than “Aggression”—certainly not the latter, not in this hold—but there had evidently been a thief who’d not liked his singing voice. A forger, more specifically.

    How else would one explain him, upon returning from the hot springs and still dripping wet, being accosted by burly hold guards declaring that he had committed crimes against Skyrim and her people, proclaiming that he had been carrying “Imperial espionage orders” in his traveling rucksack—and then producing some? Sven was a bard, not a Legion spy. Maybe Faendal had somehow managed to get to Mistwatch before him. Faendal would do something like that. Anything to wrench Camilla Valerius from him. He had to know Sven would be going to Whiterun and then, if not to Riverwood, to Riften where Penelope surely had arrived by now.

    But no, Sven was not going to Riften, not anymore as he prepared for a forced march back northward at swordpoint. He was going in binds to Windhelm, a city he had no love for and no desire to ever visit. And very possibly to the chopping block, or at least the torture chambers until the Empire finally put down the rebellion.

    The Empire was going to put down the rebellion, wasn’t it?

    ---

    2nd of Hearthfire, 4E 201 | Late Afternoon | Windhelm

    Sjadbek was feeling really good about himself as he and Burdnar re-entered Windhelm back from their first mission. Galmar had been insisting for some time that the Jagged Crown, King Borgas’s legendary diadem, still existed and was hidden inside the Nordic ruin Korvanjund—Ulfric was more skeptical, but agreed that it would at least make a good testing ground for their newest recruits, and they were sent with Ralof and Galmar to delve. They’d defeated several Imperials each outside and inside of Korvanjund, had navigated the ancient barrow successfully, and the Jagged Crown shimmered in their wheelbarrow full of dungeon loot even as they walked.

    But there had been something strange that had happened in Korvanjund, other than the Imperials having somehow known about it beforehand. At the back of the chamber there had been a large wall with what Ulfric had told him was the ancient dragon language—only he’d been able to make out a word without being told. Fus, which he somehow knew meant “force.” How had he known that? Now that it occurred to him, he’d been able to make out that Ulfric’s Zun meant “weapon” before the Jarl had explicitly told him. How had he known that, as well?

    It was a mystery he’d have to ask Ulfric about; he knew more about the dragon tongue than Sjadbek did, to be sure. Sjadbek hadn’t spent ten years of his life with the Graybeards. They made their way to the Palace of the Kings to find Ulfric in conversation with a relatively elderly and demure Imperial lady.

    “I’m telling you, the Butcher is back!” the lady pleaded with Ulfric.

    Under his breath, Burdnar muttered to Sjadbek, “Yeah, he’s right here.”

    “Not funny, Burd,” Sjadbek whispered in response.

    “Well, I thought it was—”

    “Take off your helmet so I can slap you,” the lowercase-b butcher retorted quietly to Burdnar’s statement.

    Their conversation was interrupted by Ulfric. “If you could please wait just a moment, Madam Viola?”

    Evidently noticing that Ulfric’s desire to put her on hold had been precipitated by men obviously wearing Stormcloak colors, Viola harrumphed. Always with his little war.

    “Ralof’s a good squadron leader,” Sjadbek responded, presenting the dungeon’s prize.

    “We’ve got the Jagged Crown.”

    “So Galmar was right—it did exist. It appears I owe him a drink. Was there any trouble?”

    “Well, there were draugr, but we were expecting those,” Burdnar admitted. “There were also Imperial soldiers, and we weren’t expecting them.”

    “What were they doing—Imperial spies are everywhere!”

    Immediately after saying this, a pair of guards dragged in a comparatively scrawny-looking Nord who looked and was dressed rather like a minstrel, and who seemed absolutely terrified of being in the same room with Ulfric Stormcloak. “Speaking of Imperial spies…” the guard on the left spoke, whacking the bound man with a leather strap.

    The man flinched in protest. “No, I’m telling you, I’m telling you, I’m a bard from Riverwood, I’m not a spy! I was only trying to get to Riften and someone planted these papers on me!”

    Riverwood? Sjadbek realized. Wasn’t that where Ralof was from?

    “What do you want we should do with him, my Jarl?” the guard asked Ulfric.

    “Right now I’m dealing with fifteen things at once. I don’t need a sixteenth. Put him in the dungeons and I will deal with him when I have time. Keep him alive, and don’t mistreat or torture him at least until I’ve had a chance to properly evaluate the situation.”

    Turning back to the woman called Viola as the guards frog-marched Sven out of the palace, he continued, “I do apologize for that. I understand your concern, Viola—truly, I do. To have a killer on the loose is a blight on this city, especially when certain elements may—use it as an undesirable rallying point, shall we say.”

    Viola frowned at the use of that particular phrasing, and Ulfric continued. “But there is a war on, and I simply do not have the resources to spare for a full investigation. Unless…”
    He turned to Sjadbek and Burdnar. “Neither I nor Galmar have yet decided where to assign you, so you might as well try your hand at dealing with this problem until I have something for you. You’d be doing a larger service to the realm than you realize, and one I won’t easily forget. Be sure to report any of your findings to me or the steward.”

    ---

    9th of Hearthfire, 4E 201 | Around Noon | Candlehearth Hall | Windhelm

    Over the course of the next several days, Sjadbek had gotten to know Windhelm reasonably well. Certainly he did not yet possess the geographic acumen of a native resident, but at least he wasn’t having to stop and ask a guard for directions in his rather strong Falkreath Hold accent every five minutes—something Burdnar mocked as emasculating, even though he hadn’t the slightest clue where anything was in Windhelm either. The Stone Quarter was the most bustling of the districts, where many of the merchants lived and set up shop. The Winter Quarter was generally a place for craftsmen and tradesmen, set just upwind of the Gray Quarter, which was a slum inhabited mainly by dark elf refugees from Morrowind. The Palace Quarter, of course, contained the Palace of the Kings, the barracks where he and Burdnar were lodging, and various other accoutrements of the Stormcloak government.

    Then of course, there were the docks, which held all manner of fascination in the form of Argonians. Sjadbek had actually never seen an Argonian before, but knew they had basically conquered the remnants of Morrowind and that there was a—particularly interesting book involving lusty maids of theirs. They looked rather intimidating, and he figured that was probably why they weren’t allowed in the city. That, and the fact that it would rather defeat the purpose of hosting Dunmer refugees fleeing Argonian oppression in Morrowind if they were allowed into the city to steal them. Some residents of Windhelm claimed that Ulfric didn’t care about the dark elves, but, Sjadbek figured, if he really hadn’t cared, he’d allow the Argonians in the city to run roughshod over the refugees.

    The murderer terrorizing Windhelm had evidently been sloppier this time than the last. Small splatters of blood lined the stone pavement of the ground, leading him and Burdnar to the locked door of Hjerim. It had taken some convincing and comforting words to persuade
    Tova Shatter-Shield to hand over the key, but he had done it.

    The amulet he’d found within the spacious (at least in part because of its lack of furnishings and adornment) residence turned out to be quite the prize. Calixto was willing to take it off his hands for 500 gold, and when it turned out he was the murderer, Sjadbek had taken the amulet to the Windhelm bank and was issued banknotes (“accepted in most of Skyrim, but not Solitude”) in the amount of 1,840 gold. The sum was simply astounding. Coupled with the proceeds from the barrow-gold and gems from Korvanjund, the Helgen Stormcloaks now sat with about fifteen hundred septims apiece.

    Twenty-two of these apiece went to purchase a Black-Briar Mead for each of them as the inimitable Rolff Stone-Fist sat down next to them. “Heard about that whole Butcher thing,” he grunted. “Looks like a nice haul. Watch out you don’t get robbed by some gray-skin, eh?”

    Rolff’s intense hatred for the Dunmer was, of course, well-known in Candlehearth Hall and indeed Windhelm as a whole. Many Stormcloaks viewed the Dunmer with distaste at best, though they’d still do business with them when necessary, and certainly wouldn’t have actively harassed them to their faces. Surely it wasn’t their fault Red Mountain erupted and destroyed Vvardenfell.

    Sjadbek didn’t mind most Dunmer—sure, the race had historically enslaved Nords, but at this point in history pretty much every race had enslaved every other race somewhere in Tamriel, so it was largely a wash—though he could certainly understand why some of his kinsmen were particularly leery. He didn’t know much about Morrowind, but he knew it used to have great houses that sort of functioned like super-clans, and of them House Redoran was the most noble and held as its ideals the closest to the Nords’ own paragon virtues. Somehow he doubted most Dunmer in Windhelm were or ever had been affiliated with House Redoran; had they been, they likely wouldn’t have had as many problems with his fellow Nords.

    Rolff simply rubbed him the wrong way. Sjadbek knew the man was simply voicing his opinions about the dark elves (and very loudly and obnoxiously, too), but this seemed to him the worst possible way to deal with the problems they supposedly caused. His complaint was that they refused to help the Stormcloaks, but surely what he was doing was making it even less likely for them to help the Stormcloaks. Who did he want the Dunmer to side with, anyway?

    But Rolff was Galmar’s brother, and as such he couldn’t really confront him, not without risking a tongue lashing very possibly followed by a more conventional one. And it would take a while for Galmar to trust him enough to mess with his family—if he ever did. Bjaknir—Stendarr protect him—had never taken kindly to people other than himself messing with Sjadbek, that was to be sure.

    A loud roaring sound came from outside the tavern. A rather familiar roaring sound.

    “Shor’s bones, not again,” muttered Burdnar as they stood up to face the inevitable. “Already had enough of dragons for three lifetimes!”

    The dragon was plainly seen overhead as Sjadbek and Burdnar left the tavern, swooping southbound out of the city walls, through which brave guardsmen were leaving, bows in hand and quivers on their back, and panicked citizens such as the Altmer stablemaster were rushing in. It let out a bevy of frost from his mouth, much as Hedrik had released from his hands back in the butchery cellar in Helgen.

    “Burdnar, what are we to do about this dragon?” yelled Sjadbek as they ran along the wide bridge crossing the White River. “I’m not a bowman!”

    “I don’t know, but we’ll figure out something!”

    The dragon flew over to the dockyards and grabbed an Argonian stevedore in its teeth, evidently savoring the taste of raw sapient lizard. Arrows flew as Burdnar grabbed the longbow of a fallen guard and began firing himself, ultimately piercing the dragon’s throat with the second-to-last arrow remaining in that quiver. The great beast flew in what could best be described as a drunken stumble before coming to a screeching landing, tearing down fenceposts separating the Brandy-Mug Farm just outside the city from the roads.

    The battle was not yet over. Sjadbek rushed to attack the grounded dragon from the rear, slicing his blade at the beast’s rump and shanks. Its wounded wing thrust back and gave him a nice stab in the side to compensate as it tried to turn around and snap at him despite its increasing injuries. Sjadbek dodged, though dragon-slobber spilled all over his shield arm. Some brave soul finally decided to take the beast out for good with a battleaxe to the neck. It was Galmar. Of course it would be Galmar.

    Ever the butcher, Sjadbek was determining how best to chop up and cook the dragon’s flesh when suddenly the beast’s carcass glowed ethereally, its flesh and scales cleaving themselves from bone, and a strange sort of what he thought had to be magic emanated from it, aimed at him. The experience, he felt, was similar to what had happened at the dragon wall deep in Korvanjund and when Ulfric had shown him the Disarm shout, but it seemed… deeper in meaning. As if it were unlocking potential of some sort.

    He felt compelled to shout the word from Korvanjund. “Fus.” An effulgent bluish wind rushed out from his mouth, and Burdnar staggered in it, being knocked to the ground.

    “What was that?” Burdnar asked as he got back to his feet.

    “I… don’t know,” Sjadbek admitted, wheezing, “but I think we could feed a good chunk of Windhelm on this.” Whatever he had just done had tired out his throat as though he had been speaking for an hour straight. Had he really just—Shouted, like Ulfric did to Former High King Torygg?

    The guards around him sure seemed to think so. “That was the Thu’um, wasn’t it? Just like Lord Ulfric, only you’ve never been to the Graybeards, have you?”

    “No, I’m just a butcher from Helgen,” he responded, still in disbelief.

    “I think you’re a bit more than that,” stated the same guard. “You’d better go see the Jarl.” Galmar Stone-Fist affirmed the sentiment.

    “Right.”

    “Do you think these dragon scales and dragon bones are worth anything?” Burdnar interrupted, the mercenary ever eager for more coin.

    “Aye,” Galmar responded. “They’re from a dragon. If nothing else they’d be worth something to collectors.”

    Sjadbek and Burdnar went to the shops to sell the unusual draconic artifacts, then to the Palace of the Kings. As they stood there on the threshold, the ground began to quake, as those who seldom speak spoke a word not said by them in over six centuries.

    DOVAHKIIN.

    Jarl Ulfric looked at Sjadbek with particular interest. “…How much do you know of the legend of the Dragonborn?”

    “Are you saying I am Dragonborn?”

    “The stories tell that the Dragonborn was able to devour the soul of a dragon, killing it for good and absorbing its powers for his own. If you were able to Shout then, with no prior training of any kind but a wall you stood before at Korvanjund, you must be one. This is good. This is very good. I’d certainly hate for the Dragonborn to be with the Imperials, after all.”

    “And…what do I do now?”

    “The shaking of the ground was the Graybeards on High Hrothgar summoning you. They wish to speak to you. You must go. As a matter of fact, I order it. Do whatever it is they want you to do, go wherever it is they want you to go. Should your travels happen to take you to Riverwood, inform Ralof’s family that he’s still alive—I believe they own the lumber mill. Burdnar, follow Sjadbek as a shield-brother, like you have been already. I do not know how long the Graybeards will keep him on the mountain itself, but if it’s more than two weeks, leave him and make haste to Whiterun.”

    “Whiterun, sir?” Burdnar repeated. Sjadbek also perked up in curiosity.

    “The Jarl of Whiterun has been given enough time to deliberate. It is time to make his choice—Skyrim his homeland, or a broken Empire bidden to betray itself by its true masters.” He handed the man a war axe, the emblem of Windhelm and the Stormcloaks gleaming on its hilt. With a deathly grave voice, Ulfric intoned, “Deliver this axe to Balgruuf the Greater.”

    Sjadbek gulped. “We’re attacking Whiterun.”

    “And this is his last chance to avoid it. Talos be with you both.”
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 5: Among Thieves

    26th of Hearthfire, 4E 201 | 4:45 p.m. | About four miles south of Whiterun

    As it turned out, getting to the Greybeards took more time than the Greybeards themselves. They were probably used to it taking on the order of a year or two to teach a Shout, rather than a matter of minutes. He’d stayed a day to practice and get used to the new Shouts they had taught him—the second word of the Unrelenting Force shout that Fus had begun, and the first word, Wuld, in Whirlwind Sprint.

    The Greybeards had asked him to retrieve the horn of Jurgen Windcaller from a ruin called Ustengrav, in Hjaalmarch. Hjaalmarch, where his brother sat brooding miserably, shackled in an Imperial fortress. Sjadbek would have to be sure to bring him a bottle of mead when he liberated him from the fort. Talos knew he deserved it.

    The fastest way to Ustengrav was to go southward from Ivarstead around through Riverwood and Whiterun north into Hjaalmarch—to take the road through Valtheim would have necessitated either a swim through Lake Geir (which Burdnar, used to wearing heavy mercenary armor, did not particularly fancy) or a long trip back east to where the roads met up, halfway to Riften.

    Not to mention they had to visit Riverwood and Whiterun anyway. Ralof’s sister Gerdur and her husband Hod had been very pleased to hear that Ralof had managed to make it out of Helgen, and happily sheltered the two Stormcloak sympathizers even though they had warned it could cause trouble—“Nonsense. I’m glad to help the sons of Skyrim however I can.”

    She had warned them that it might not be the best idea to traipse around Whiterun in full Stormcloak gear—officially the city was neutral, hence Ulfric’s adamance that Whiterun pick a side—but the problems they’d face would likely be more brawls and fistfights from Imperial sympathizers. Fortunately, the Stormcloak cuirass itself was detachable from the chain mail by design, so they simply elected to put on ordinary tunics and wear the mail itself over them.

    As they walked, a sabre cat leapt out of the bushes on the side of the road, but it didn’t seem to be targeting Sjadbek and Burdnar, but rather someone or something further up the road than them. Not knowing if it was animal, friend, or foe, they rushed ahead to see what was going on. If an animal, free lunch; if a friend, they’d likely saved their lives; if a foe, well—they could always kill them anyway, though so close to Whiterun it probably would be a bad idea. Still, it would dishonor them as sons of Skyrim not to try to help out, so they did.

    It turned out to be a relatively corpulent Nord man of about forty years of age fighting alongside a horse and cart under attack from a sabre cat. A freshly-killed human corpse lay close-by, the ineffective bodyguard being the feline’s first victim. It seemed likely that he would be the second, absent the two Stormcloaks’ interference. Sjadbek went up and sliced the sabre cat’s tail off, turning its ire toward him and away from the man—the Dragonborn was more well equipped to deal with such monstrosities of nature anyway. A short but bloody battle ensued, with a large gash forming on Sjadbek’s right thigh.

    “Hey, Burdnar,” he laughed, “you want sabre cat tonight?”

    Burdnar gave an exasperated look at his shield-brother as the fat man began to speak to them. “Very much appreciated. Didn’t really think this dinky thing had what it would take if it took down old Morak so fast,” he said, brandishing what looked like a steel dagger. “You definitely look like sturdy warriors.”

    “The best the Storm—Skyrim has to offer,” Burdnar boasted as Sjadbek gave him a sharp look.

    “I know what you were about to say,” admitted the man. “Don’t worry. I’m on your side. Skirling Twice-Bruised, at your service,” he said with a bow. “Owner of several properties in Whiterun and, most importantly, the East Brittleshin corundum mines.”

    “Sjadbek Steirsson, of Helgen when it was still around. Ran the butchery there, with my brother Bjaknir—but he was captured by the Legion.”

    “Sorry to hear that,” Skirling responded.

    “Burdnar the Brazen, toughest mercenary in all Tamriel!” the man boomed.

    “There once was a hero named Ragnar the Red, who came riding to Whiterun from old—in this case, Ivarstead,” Sjadbek muttered, clearly not amused by Burdnar’s boastful antics, not at the present time. The song, while entertaining, was intended as a fable against immodesty. “Are you headed to Whiterun, too?”

    “Indeed I am. Need a ride, or are you going to walk on that injured leg? I’ve got space, and as far as I’m concerned, killing that saber cat was your fee.”

    “Well, I could heal up in the cart. I may as well take you up on your kind offer,” he admitted. It seemed fair enough; most Nords typically were willing to grant such hospitality—fair reward for services rendered, at the very least to their kinsmen. Rolff was a notable exception to this.

    “Sjad knows magical healing,” Burdnar explained. “Comes in handy, the scrapes we get in. There is another favor, one I think you’d be in a position to grant if you’d be willing… We need an audience with the Jarl.”

    “With Balgruuf? That will likely be difficult, but I’ll see what I can do.” Skirling put his finger to his chin in pensive thought as Sjadbek climbed the cart. “Hmm… there is a brand-new bounty out on some bandits camped out near at Red Snail’s Rest, only about five miles west of the city. Beat them and I’m sure the Jarl would have your ear. Get you a bit of gold, too.”

    ---

    29th of Hearthfire, 4E 201 | 9:15 a.m. | Whiterun

    All things considered, Skirling seemed to Sjadbek like a decent and rather man of reasonable importance to Whiterun Hold—someone it would be useful to get to know. He told them about the two most powerful families in the realm—the Battle-Borns and Gray-Manes—and the feud between them that had arisen as a result of the Stormcloak uprising. The Jarl may have been neutral, but the citizenry was not: both Imperial and Stormcloak sentiment ran high in the town, bards were hesitant to sing either “The Age of Oppresion” or “The Age of Aggression” for fear that too many of the wrong crowd might be listening, and town guards hauling the combatants of brawls-gone-wrong to Dragonsreach Dungeon were a near-nightly sight.

    The bandits at Red Snail’s Rest hadn’t been that tough to dispatch, and they’d filched some items that would likely fetch a decent price at market, or a decent reward if their owners could be located. Skirling had advised them that while Belethor’s store probably had the best stock of the general merchants in Whiterun, the owner of the store was a “sketchy, skeevy swindler; be on your guard”—the way he spoke of Belethor was almost as if he had a grudge against him, and the harshest words Sjadbek had heard leaving the Whiterun landowner’s mouth appeared to be reserved for the merchant. Still, it was worth a look, if only out of curiosity. Sjadbek thought himself decent at haggling. It was a necessary element of the butcher’s trade, but generally he priced his cuts fairly enough that little haggling was necessary.

    And, in fairness, he did look rather intimidating, even for a Nord, which probably helped out a little. Having Burdnar by his side would probably help.

    “Everything’s for sale, my friend! Everything! If I had a sister, I’d sell her in a second! Heh-heh,” proclaimed the Breton merchant as Sjadbek and Burdnar entered his shop. So far he wasn’t exactly doing much to dispel the rumors Skirling had mentioned about him; Sjadbek could see exactly why some of the townsfolk called him sleazy.

    Belethor wanted to buy his stock of bandit-pilfered jewelry and silverware he was selling for the piddling sum of two hundred septims, but had quickly raised his offer when Sjadbek informed him that he knew, for a fact, that it would fetch him at least three hundred septims in Windhelm—“maybe 350,” and that he could probably get “at least 260, easily” at the jewelers outside in the full market.

    The merchant relented, as equally persuaded by his statement as by the fact that the vendor had a rather intimidating body build and was traipsing around his shop in chain mail, and bought the goods for 275 gold and a minor stamina potion (“fifty gold fair value, I swear on Zenithar’s mother’s grave!”).

    “Belethor’s not so bad,” Sjadbek commented as they left the general goods store. “If anything, I feel I swindled him.”

    “Didn’t I tell you muscle bulk helped out in bartering with merchants?” Burdnar responded. “Now hurry up, we’ve got to get to the Jarl by ten.”

    ---

    4th of Frostfall, 4E 201 | Early Morning | Windhelm Jail

    Sven shivered in the cold of Windhelm as he awoke from the pile of hay on which he slept, not exactly helped by the ratty rags they made him wear instead of his normal clothes. The guards wouldn’t even let him sing, claiming his “squawking was disturbing the other prisoners.” Julianos smite this frost-ridden city, Sven thought.

    He’d been twice visited by Ulfric himself, slammed via his Shouts against the hard stone wall of his cell, bruised and beaten by Galmar and the guards, and had his shoulder dislocated on the rack all because he “refused” to give up information that he didn’t have, couldn’t possibly have. Whoever had planted that information had obviously been very good at both shill and forgery jobs, and the Stormcloaks had been relentless—they had to be. Bloody Thieves Guild—he had been as close to Riften as he could have been and still be in Eastmarch.

    A guard walked in flanked by two particularly burly-looking Stormcloaks, one blond, one brown-haired. No, not today… he hadn’t finished healing up from the last round of punishment. “This is Sven’s cell?” the blond one said to the guard, who nodded. Were they new guards in training, maybe? There wasn’t much difference between the Windhelm guards’ outfit and the Stormcloak uniform, after all…

    The blond man reached his left hand into the cell with a honey nut treat, and what for all intents and purposes looked like a bottle of mead. So this is their new tactic? Torture hasn’t worked, so now they try bribery? “I’ve already told you,” he pleaded, “I don’t know where the Eastmarch Imperial camp is, or the Winterhold one!”

    “That isn’t what I’m here about, Sven,” the bribing Stormcloak informed him. “I actually have good reason to believe your ‘cover story’ is in fact the truth, though I’m not entirely certain you’re not an Imperial spy or at least an Imperial sympathizer. I have come here because I need to know the whereabouts of the Dragonstone, and I believe you know where it is.”

    “Jarl Balgruuf sent me to Farengar and Farengar sent me to get it. I don’t know what he wants with it. It’s just a big hunk of stone, after all.”

    “So then you’ve seen it?”

    “Oh, yeah,” he said as he finally accepted the blond soldier’s treats. Got dragged all over Bleak Falls Barrow for it. Thought she’d let me bed her if I did this, since things with Camilla weren’t going so hot—”

    “ ‘She’? Who’s ‘she’?”

    “The Breton lady, Penelope. The stone was part of her share of the loot. She said she was going to Riften.” Sven took a swig of mead, the sweet liquid soothing his parched throat. “We hadn’t known Farengar needed it at the time.”

    “Well then, Burdnar,” he said to his brunet comrade, “we’ve got to go to Riften and get it back.”

    “I’m not looking forward to Riften,” Burdnar flatly declared.

    “What did Riften do to you?”

    “It stinks.”

    “Are you a battle-hardened son of Skyrim, or a milk-drinking pansy?” Turning to Sven, the man who unbeknownst to the Riverwood bard was named Sjadbek spoke, “If we get the Dragonstone, I’ll talk with Ulfric about letting you go. He’s already agreed to hold off further torture since it appears your cover story is actually panning out. If we get the Dragonstone.”

    ---

    8th of Frostfall, 4E 201 | 3:00 p.m.| Just Outside of Riften

    From the vantage point just beyond Riften’s southern exit, Maven Black-Briar could just make out the buildings of Goldenglow Estate, where a couple weeks ago fires had burned down a few of their hives—fires set on purpose to prove a point. She didn’t particularly fancy the drop in honey production the burned hives yielded in the short term, given that her own mead was just as equally dependent on honey (else it would not be called mead) but what had to be done had to be done. Aringoth had to be taught a lesson: do not try to compete with the Black-Briars.

    Perhaps that Breton girl Brynjolf had recently inducted into the Guild was in fact not as much of a waste of the Guild’s resources as Mercer seemed to think. Certainly, their self-proclaimed “finest” infiltrator, Vex, couldn’t successfully infiltrate the heavily-guarded bee farm—but this Breton could. And fancy that—something Bretons actually were useful for, since they certainly weren’t useful for hauling around heavy crates.

    There was still the matter of the Honningbrew Meadery. It had to go—there was no way around it. Competition in her direct business was thoroughly unacceptable; it would have defeated the purpose of a monopoly were she to allow the Honningbrew travesty to continue. On the other hand, there was no point in wasting a perfectly good meadery. Fortunately, the indentured assistant Mallus Maccius had… issues of his own with the proprietor Sabjorn, and would most certainly be willing to help.

    Sabjorn could not be killed—harmed, perhaps, but not killed. It was not how the Thieves Guild operated, at any rate. For a fleeting moment she thought about contacting the Dark Brotherhood, but given the secretive agency’s lack of response regarding the more financially appealing target of the Jarl of Riften she sincerely doubted they would be at all up to the task. No, with the successful infiltration of Goldenglow, the Thieves Guild was clearly the more reliable of the clandestine guilds, and so this task should fall to them.
    She cradled the stone of Barenziah in her hands, brought out from the manor for her to cherish. Someday, someday soon, I will have all of you.

    ---

    12th of Frostfall, 4E 201 | 4:30 p.m.| Riften

    Bandits blocked the road to Riften. Of course bandits blocked the road to Riften; Riften was a den of thieves, vipers, thugs, and other personages of generally unpleasant nature. But what really surprised and angered the two Stormcloaks was a group of three Imperial soldiers marching a prisoner up the road just south of Shor’s Stone—here! Deep in the Rift!

    Sjadbek and Burdnar were in full Stormcloak armor, of course—it was, or at least should have been, perfectly safe to wear it in this part of Skyrim, and as such were targets for the Imperials. And the Imperials, who had no rightful presence in Skyrim let alone the Rift, were of course targets for them. His blade steeled in bloody determination, Sjadbek charged forward at the Legion escorts, and screamed, “Zun!” Burdnar followed him.

    The vanguard of the escort found his weapon forcibly wrenched from his hand as the Stormcloaks began to slash their swords against those who would, at least in Sjadbek’s mind, happily see Skyrim ground under the boots of the Thalmor. The prisoner is as good as Bjaknir, the Dragonborn thought. Save him. As the three Legion soldiers finally found themselves lying on the dirt, dead from bloody battle, Sjadbek took the opportunity to divest them of any gold or similar items.

    What he found in the pocket of the escorts’ rear guard was a bill of sale to a Bersi Honey-Hand in Riften, of an inscribed amulet of Stendarr. The inscriptions were clearly detailed in the bill of sale, and were such that they could only have been the original property of one person.

    Berdja.

    If he hadn’t already had a reason to go to Riften, the retrieval of this amulet would have been enough for him. Talos willing, this Bersi was a merchant, and he could just buy it back, otherwise he’d have to figure out some way of acquiring it legitimately. This was the city of thieves, but Sjadbek, having technically been a merchant himself, wanted no part of thieves.

    “Never been to Riften before, soldiers?” a tough-looking Nord heavy snarled as the two Stormcloaks entered the city itself. Burdnar had been right: Riften stank—worse than Sjadbek’s butchery cellar had ever done, even with large piles of animal carcass in it. Riften stank of its sewers and of the filth that resided inside it. “Take my advice—do what you’re here for and leave. Last thing the Black-Briars need is more of your kind coming in and stealin’ the action.”

    “I will say they make good mead, though,” Sjadbek admitted, which seemed to please the thug. “You with the Black-Briars?”

    “In a way. I’m Maul. Watch the streets for ‘em. If you need dirt on anything, I’m your guy, but it’ll cost you.”

    Figures, Sjadbek thought. Of course information would come at a price in a den of cutpurses, swindlers, and con-men. Unfortunately, it happened to be exactly what he was here for, and Maul had specifically advised him to do just that. “Yeah, I need dirt on something,” he spoke, his Falkreath accent becoming stronger and his voice tougher as he continued conversation with the Black-Briar lackey. “Know anything about a ‘Dragonstone’?”

    “I might. How much you gonna pay me for it?”

    “How about I brawl you for it?” Sjadbek asked. He didn’t get into real scuffles often (without the help of swords and shouts), but he and Burdnar had taken down three Imperials, not to mention a fort full of bandits, so a simple brawl shouldn’t be a problem, right? “Fists only, no kicks, whole body’s fair game. I win, you tell me what you know about it.”

    “A brawl? Heh, your funeral. Fists only, no kicking, everything from head to toe,” Maul confirmed, removing and setting aside his armor to reveal an impossibly hairy chest his tunic did a poor job of covering. “And when I win, it’ll be a Black-Briar Reserve out of your coin.”

    “Fair enough,” Sjadbek said as he removed his Stormcloak cuirass and straightened the nondescript russet shirt underneath. Immediately after he did so, he found himself slammed in the gut by Maul’s right hook, and countered with a punch to his jaw. The brawl was on.

    For several intense minutes the fight continued, though Maul clearly had the upper hand, much to Sjadbek’s chagrin. Bjaknir had largely shielded Sjadbek from youthful fistfighting, much of their roughhousing had been in the form of wrestling, and brawls were not wrestling matches. Punches were matched with counterpunches, feints, and dodges until Sjadbek, his stamina nearly drained, managed to pull a fist below Maul’s belt.

    “Why, you weak-livered”—he threw a punch at Sjadbek’s already-split lip—“leather-bellied”—and now a punch to the left shoulder—“slime bucket. You learn to fight from an alchemist?”

    “Come on, drive that pathetic sack of dragon dung to the ground!” someone called, though Sjadbek couldn’t make out who the insult was directed at. Probably him. Another last punch to the head and he crumpled to the ground in defeat. How could he have lost that?

    “Get up,” Maul snarled. “A little practice, you might be able to lose a little less bad to me. Buy me my mead and then run back to whatever little milk farm you came from.”

    Sjadbek staggered to his feet, clutching his ribs. So he wasn’t quite as good a brawler as he thought he was. This is going to take the whole evening to heal, he thought, before Maul spoke again. “If you still want that dirt on the Dragonstone, Stormcloak, I’ll give it to you, but it’ll cost coin this time. You got a hundred septims to spare?”

    The cost was high, but he didn’t really want any more trouble from Maul, and he did need to find out where the Dragonstone was. “As you wish,” he said as he shilled out the money.

    “ ‘Pathetic sack of dragon dung.’ Heh. I’m gonna have to use that. Breton woman named Penelope brought it in. But a word of caution, she’s with the Guild. Good luck finding her, and good luck getting anything from her,” Maul scoffed. “You’d better hope you’re better with a blade than you are in a brawl.”

    ---

    15th of Frostfall, 4E 201 | 11:00 a.m.| Riften | The Ratway

    One hundred and seventy-five septims poorer after paying for the information and for Maul’s victory mead, Sjadbek had spent the evening of the 12th in the Bee and Barb tavern, healing up from the bloody brawl. It took just about every ounce of magical strength he had, even with the benefit of a potion of magicka and a circlet increasing magical strength he and Burdnar had pilfered from the bandits.

    Note to self for future reference: avoid brawls in Riften if at all possible.

    A decent chunk of the 13th was also spent healing up and resting, though Sjadbek and Burdnar did make a point to visit the Pawned Prawn, the shop owned by this merchant Bersi who had . He had seemed like a surprisingly kind man, something that appeared to be a rarity in this city—upon hearing Sjadbek’s story about Berdja, he said he sympathized, and allowed the Dragonborn to take the amulet for half the price he was willing to pay for it. Bersi had indicated he was trying to stay neutral with respect to the war, a task that became ever more difficult with each passing day—and more importantly, it was very clear that the general merchant was by no means a friend of the Thieves Guild.

    But to the Ratway he had to go. The center of the blighted organization’s operations in Skyrim, the Ratway comprised the old sewers of the city and smelled, compared to Riften as a whole, about how Riften as a whole smelled compared to Windhelm. As Bersi had warned, the Guild had indeed stocked the labyrinthine warren full of thugs who weren’t good enough to join, and that had to be dispatched. Fortunately, there were no fistfights here—at least not ones where he was also agreeing to eschew weapons and shouting.

    He certainly was not wearing Stormcloak colors here: In this rathole there was only one authority, and it wasn’t Ulfric, Laila, or the Emperor. It was whoever the heck ran the Thieves Guild. Chain mail and leathers would be enough down here, hopefully. After navigating the sewers, they came across a door, which a sign declared the interior to be the Ragged Flagon, the nexus of the guild. “We’d better be careful,” Burdnar muttered. “No telling what we’ll find in here.”

    “What they found in there” turned out to be an extremely dinky and dark tavern, with a handful of people seated at a makeshift bar swilling Black-Briar mead. A redheaded Nord who Sjadbek thought he’d seen selling something called “Falmer Blood Elixir” on the day he came into Riften sat at a table with a surprisingly muscular Breton man (Sjadbek actually wondered if he was in fact a Breton, or just an unusually short Nord) and what appeared to be the same woman that—

    “Is she the Breton they had on the block back home?” Burdnar whispered to Sjadbek, obviously having surmised the same thing, but they were interrupted by the redhead having noticed their presence.

    “Never seen you two before,” he spoke in a pleasantly lilting Riften brogue. “Not many people make it through the Ratway alive. Least of all ones carrying notes of credit from the Banks of Windhelm and Whiterun.”

    “How do you know about that?” Sjadbek challenged.

    “Wealth is my business, lad. Had my eye on you the minute Maul pummeled you to a pulp. Certainly wasn’t expecting you down here after that, though. Word of advice, don’t mess with the Guild or you’ll find Maven Black-Briar breathing down your neck, and then a headsman’s axe falling on it.”

    “Brynjolf, I don’t think they’ll be any trouble,” the Breton woman from Helgen insisted, for rather obvious reasons not wanting to continue any conversation that entailed the use of the words “headsman’s axe.” With a twinge of curiosity, she asked them, “What are you doing down here, anyway?”

    “We’re looking for a stone tablet originally from Bleak Falls Barrow. A bard named Sven of Riverwood was looking for it, but he got caught around Mistwatch town carrying Imperial documents. Kept insisting they were planted on him—you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

    “We got the wrong guy?” came a voice from the other side of the Flagon, a blond Cyrodilic woman Burdnar and Sjadbek had not yet noticed.

    “How was I to know there was gonna be a second bard in Mistwatch inn that night?” snarled the brawny Breton thief in a much more unpleasant Riften brogue.

    “I don’t think we should be discussing this with outside company present,” Brynjolf scolded.

    The black-haired Breton lady agreed. “I actually do know something about that stone. Maul probably charged you a stiff price to lead you to me, especially if you were the one he beat up. Kind of surprised, actually. You look a lot stronger than that.”

    “So you’re Penelope then?” Sjadbek asked. “And about that fight—I’m a bladesman, not a pugilist. In a swordfight, I’d have definitely beaten him, that’s for sure. You were at Helgen, weren’t you? About to have your head chopped off—I wasn’t sure why the Legion had you on the cart until, really, just now. You’re obviously a thief, or you wouldn’t be in the Guild.”

    “I am in the Thieves Guild,” she admitted, “but that’s not why I was on the block at Helgen. It was a mistake—I was just trying to get to Riften to find information on my father, and I got caught up in a Stormcloak ambush.” She said the word Stormcloak venomously enough to make it clear that she was no particular friend to their cause. “Are you with the Legion? Do you know anything about my father? Captain Adrianus of Cheydinhol?”

    Sjadbek and Burdnar blinked at each other, obviously the first time they’d been accused of being Legionnaires. “We don’t know anything about your father. I’m sorry,” Sjadbek apologized.

    “And we’re definitely not in the Legion,” Burdnar added. “In fact—”

    “Now, about this Dragonstone?” Sjadbek interrupted before Burdnar could tell her they were Stormcloaks.

    “I don’t know if I can just hand it over,” Penelope admitted. “It’s fair loot. I got it from an ancient barrow—nearly died getting the heavy thing. And I’ve got to go to Whiterun tomorrow, anyway.”

    “That’s great. We’ve got to go to Whiterun too. Look, all we want is the stone, that’s it. No gold, no jewels—we don’t even want it for ourselves; the court mage of Whiterun insisted we retrieve it. You go to Whiterun and I’ll tell the authorities you have it, and I’d really hate to do that. You seem like a decent lady, even if you are a thief.”

    “All right, I’ll give you the Dragonstone when we get to Whiterun if you don’t interfere with what I’m going to do there.”

    Sjadbek, ever bound by duty, had no choice but to agree. Without the Dragonstone, Balgruuf would not even discuss the war or take Ulfric’s axe—a really stupid idea on his part, the Stormcloak thought, as Ulfric could just as easily attack the city while he spent an eternity deliberating. Without a decision from Balgruuf, Sjadbek could not return to Ulfric. He had to succeed in his task.

    “Fine,” he responded with a sigh, “I won’t.”
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
  7. Uther Pundragon

    Uther Pundragon The Harbinger of Awesome
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1,027
    Reputation:
    552
    A good rewrite! More. Now. Srsly. Now.
     
  8. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,943
    Likes Received:
    1,959
    Reputation:
    1,303
    Yeah, this is very nice stuff, Bulba! :D I'm really looking forward to more!

    I'm STILL lol'ing at the disclaimers too. :p
     
  9. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 2 has been published :)
     
  10. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,943
    Likes Received:
    1,959
    Reputation:
    1,303
    Unsurprisingly, I am loving this! :p Haha, I had to laugh at the reactions to her! xD And poor Sjadbek...he needs hugs!

    MOAR. NOW. WRITE. *whip crack* :D
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  11. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    He's going to have fun when he gets to Windhelm.

    Viola Giordano: "Be on the lookout - the Butcher could be around any corner."
    Burdnar: "Yeah, he's right here."
    Sjadbek: "Wrong type of butcher... why do they always call them that anyway? Gives my trade a bad name."
     
  12. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 3 up now.
     
  13. Uther Pundragon

    Uther Pundragon The Harbinger of Awesome
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1,027
    Reputation:
    552
    Let me use your computer. It seems to write faster than mine. Good stuff going on here.
     
  14. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,943
    Likes Received:
    1,959
    Reputation:
    1,303
    LOVE this, Bulba! You have such a knack for story-telling and for dialogue. Kudos, my friend! :)
     
  15. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    chapter 4 up :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Chapter 5 is now up. It's quite a bit longer than my other chapters (nearly 5,000 words as opposed to just over 3,000). But it kind of had a lot of meat to it.
     
  17. iPedobear

    iPedobear Sexy Bear

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    3
    Reputation:
    3
    Well done. Great read, mate. :D
     
  18. Uther Pundragon

    Uther Pundragon The Harbinger of Awesome
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1,027
    Reputation:
    552
    Niiice chapter Bulb. Just one thing. *Greybeards*. :) Other than that, awesome stuff.
     
  19. bulbaquil

    bulbaquil ...is not Sjadbek, he just runs him.

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    489
    Reputation:
    63
    Correction made :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Docta Corvina

    Docta Corvina Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,943
    Likes Received:
    1,959
    Reputation:
    1,303
    Very nice next chapter, Bulba! Excellent as usual! :) I think you nailed Pen's characterization - she's intrigued, wary and focused all at once. And good-humored. That's her. :p

    I hope I do Sjad justice in my next chapter! :O
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1

Share This Page

  • Like us on Facebook