Hey guys, I used to be active on "Skyrim Blog" back in 2013 when I was 14. I did a couple mildly popular builds and had a writing series called "The Last Witch Hunter" (This was before that shitty Vin Diesel film of the same name came out).
Since lockdown I've got back into writing for the first time in many years and have also started playing ESO which got my nostalgia running and led me to return here. I decided to write up a short series (4-5 acts) focused on capturing the Skyrim civil war in a dark, horrific nature that the game doesn't really ever touch on whilst combining this with one of my favourite bits of elder scrolls lore that you will learn about as the series progresses.
Not sure how active this site is these days and doubt anyone I used to talk to is still around but hope somebody reads and enjoys the series all the same:)
Desert Snow, Act One:
The stale aroma of mead and sweat hung in the tavern air, like a morning fog. A fog that stewed and boiled over in a heat birthed from a pit of dancing embers in the centre of the room, leaving nose hairs singed and throats coarse; desperate for another drink. The fire pit cast wicked shadows throughout the confines of the tavern, providing ample opportunity for weary patrons to cling to the peace of the dark, what few murmured conversations were held remained private under the low crackle of that ever burning flame.
The night was young; the light from a full moon tried in vain to breach grime-caked windows, the chill of a fierce wind could faintly be detected if one held a bare palm to the cracks and crevices in the walls yet it battled in vain against the humid haze from that over-stoked flame. It was this nightly chill that led so many to endure the taverns own unpleasant climate; it was a sanctuary, an unpleasant, depressing and shadowy realm that sheltered its inhabitants from a much worst world on the other side of its aged wooden door.
A door that now burst to life, its hinges screaming in protest as several burly figures barged their way inside.
The fleeting murmurs of dialogue cut out instantly, even the crackle of fire seemed to dim in anticipation and every set of eyes in the tavern snapped to the door. The soft clang of metal on metal resounded throughout the silence of the room, letting everyone know that beneath these intruders winter cloaks was armoured bodies; and in these times armoured bodies meant one thing, trouble had arrived.
The lead figure pulled back his hood, his head was an uneven mound of flesh, bulging as if his skull was lined with thick muscles; he grinned a yellowed smile, his eyes lit up like a cat stumbling across a nest of mice.
“Evening, fine folk!” He roared. From the shadows a dozen patrons flinched at the sudden invasion of sound.
The two other figures at Meathead’s six also removed their hoods, the first to do so exposed an angular face to the room, with features that wouldn’t have looked out of place upon the rats in the taverns stables. He looked to Meathead with beady, expectant eyes that hung on every move he made, waiting for the next order. The last to remove his hood revealed a surprisingly charming and undeniably attractive face, he shook his head; golden locks freed themselves and cascaded onto his shoulders as he stepped in line alongside meathead.
“Shors blood! It’s quiet in ‘ere aint it? Whats the matta, mead no good?” Meathead waved his hands desperately at the eyes that stared in fright from the shadows. Ratface laughed manically like it was the funniest joke he’d ever heard, Blondie rolled his eyes and pushed past them both to the bar.
“Your finest mead please.” He beckoned to the Inkeep as his lightly armoured frame crashed onto a waiting stool.
The Inkeep was a fresh faced woman, she’d inherited the bar from her father and had survived many harsh winters as its keeper, dealing with her share of thugs and bandits over the years she knew what to expect. She poured him a glass of mead, her wary stare never leaving their watch as the other two intruders made their way over to join Blondie at the bar.
“Ten Septims m’lord.” She let the words out, hoping they didn’t light the fuse to a dangerous night.
“What’s that?” Meathead spoke up, his voice layered in mock outrage, “Us here is Stormcloak soldiers, we fight for your freedom and you have the cheek to charge us for a drink to warm our spirits?”
“That’s right miss, you’ve got some real Nord warriors here!” Ratface blurted out, looking to Meathead for approval as soon as the words had left his lips.
“My apologies men, drinks on the house.” She forced her muscles to twist a warm smile towards the soldiers and poured them all a fresh glass of mead.
The night rolled on, a non-stop flow of mead was reluctantly passed to the three soldiers as they descended into a drunken stupor. Bit by bit the patrons of the bar silently darted from the safety of the shadows out the front door, returning to their homes and bolting their doors. It had been several hours since the soldiers had arrived, they’d removed their cloaks and now danced drunkenly around the tavern, the blue tabards of their Stormcloak armour gliding proudly through the tavern smog as they sung traditional Nordic songs.
A strained smile never left the bartenders lips as she worked hard to please the soldiers and keep a bottle in their hands, she waited with baited breath for a lapse in the festivities before making what she knew to be the most dangerous move of the night.
“So gentleman…” She began cautiously, “The nights getting old and I’m running dry on mead, how bout I fix you up a bed for the eve?”
All three men turned to fix her with a curious stare.
“The night ends when we say so miss, you’ll give us eryy last drop o’ mead in this blasted hole if we demand it!” Ratface shrieked, his courage clearly fanned by his alcohol induced state.
“I meant no offence I just…”
“We are true Nords!” Ratface stomped the bar, his cheeks burned red with rage and alcohol and sweat slid down over veins that bulged on his forehead. “You better show us the respect we deserve!”
“Easy Bron.” Meatface grinned. “A bed sounds nice.”
The barkeep breathed a sigh of relief.
“What’s your name love?” Meatface grinned menacingly at her.
The Inkeep considered her response as she clenched her knuckles and bit down on her pursed lip, “Runa.” She finally stated.
“Well you’re wrong on one thing Runa, the night is still young. Me and my men aren’t done with your fine company just yet.”
The blood drained from Runa’s face as her worst fears unravelled before her.
Meatface leant over the bar and grabbed her wrist tightly with a vice-like grip.
“Been a while since we got to enjoy the delights of fair maiden such as you.”
Ratface; or Bron as he’d been named, laughed manically with gleeful delight.
Runa’s eyes darted around the tavern in a desperate search for aid yet the shadows lay dormant of visible activity, as a final resort she found her gaze land pleadingly on the handsome blonde Nord, he’d been polite and shown more restraint than his companions throughout the night; surely he could be reasoned with?
Blondie strode softly behind the bar, his face refused to betray any hint of emotion as he took a final swig of his mead and planted it firmly on the counter, time in the room seemed to slow down as everyone watched him approach with cautious anticipation. The Inkeeps eyes let slip a moment of hope as the blonde Nord moved to her side with a charming smile finally breaking forth. A moment of hope that was crushed almost instantly as Blondie reached out to run his rough palms along Runa’s trembling frame.
“Come now pet, a wench like you should be honoured to give herself in the service of Skyrim.” He smirked with an arrogant mask of charm.
“Bastards!” Runa growled, tearing her arm free from Meatheads clutches. Before anyone had time to react she’d grabbed Blondies recently emptied bottle from the bar and launched it with all her fury at his stupid golden locks. The glass shattered and the room erupted into chaos, blood sprayed forth from the Nords head, his screams of rage and pain caused the glass protruding from his skull to vibrate with seething anger. Meathead growled and darted his greasy paws back over the bar, choking the Inkeep in a renewed grip, Bron howled in shock and delight, bouncing from foot to foot as he yelled abuse at the poor woman who simply gritted her teeth and prepared for the consequence of her defiance. Whatever she’d expected next it certainly wasn’t the deafening silence that suddenly struck the room.
Looking up in confusion she saw Blondies lifeless frame hanging crookedly against the wall as a golden hilted short sword caked in fresh blood lay imbedded between his eyes, pinning him by the skull to the back wall and causing a second stream of red to slowly ooze down the centre of his once charming features, seemingly splitting his face in two.
Meathead released Runa from his paws, moving to spin towards the direction where the sword had been thrown from yet he was far too slow and before he’d even begun to move the cold kiss of steel lapped hungrily at his throat, spilling another fresh wave of blood across the bar. Bron fumbled with the sword at his hip, struggling to unsheathe it in his panic; even if he’d managed he’d have stood little chance against the calculated wrath of violence that descended upon him. His face stiffened as he realised he was now looking straight into the eyes of his killer, eyes that seemed to float amidst a wrap of dark fabrics and darker skin, there was no hate in those dark iris, no hesitation, no regret, simply the chilling stare of a master at work on his craft. The blade in Bron’s stomach seemed to hum inside him and he felt an unfamiliar yet welcoming promise of peace, as quickly as steel and song had filled his being the blade slipped free; the void it created on departure was quickly replaced with the stampede of guts rushing to free themselves from the despicable man that had been their prison.
When Runa rose from behind the bar she stared blankly at the horror scene that covered her residence, her brain unable to properly process or react to the layers of blood, guts and bodies that lined every inch of her vision.
In the centre of it all, he stood. Small in stature yet his cloaked presence towered ominously over everything, face shrouded beneath several layers of fabric that snaked around; masking any signs of humanity besides his cold, undeterred stare. Held with expert ease in his right hand was the most magnificent blade Runa had ever laid eyes on, a crescent slice of blue steel decorated with inlaid runic engravings and a fresh coat of dark blood atop a practical yet elegant golden hilt, her fixation was severed as the sword flicked up into a masterful dance that saw steel and blood separate in the air into two seemingly immiscible molecules, as the blood fell to the ground the now clean blade returned to its sheath. The fabric wraps of the blades owner shifted as he turned to look towards the Inkeep, the faint trace of recognition crept into Runa’s mind as her thoughts cast back to the vague memory of a stranger slipping in discreetly during the early evening hustle, he’d been so inconspicuous she could hardly even remember serving him… had he been in the shadows this whole time? His dark eyes regarded her; somewhat sadly, yet before she could confirm anything more he’d turned and glided towards the door, his brown cloak casting a spectral shadow over the tavern as he slid past the fire pit.
“Wait.” She found herself croaking, so quietly she wasn’t even sure if the words had really been spoken at all, the cloaked figure hesitated slightly, his senses clearly finely tuned to the whisper in the night.
“Wait!” She tried again; firmer with a sense of conviction as she nodded to herself, her mind made up.
“Take me with you.”