Many years ago, the Last Dovahkiin to walk Nirn found a sacred haven hidden deep within the mountains of the Reach and sought to make a haven for those who grew tired of the corruption plaguing Markarth. Eventually, as time grew onwards, what was once a few simple log shacks on the banks of a river grew into a prime and bustling settlement.
The first new visitors see when stepping inside the great archway of Sky’s Haven is a stone statue to the mighty Dovahkiin, vanquisher of Alduin and savior of Skyrim. Constructed from stone and steel, it stands tall, a sword pointing downwards into the base, much alike the Talos statue that is still seen around the province today.
Carved stone and oak wood upon water greets you as you tread onwards, finding the city to be bustling yet quaint. The trickle of the Karth River runs beneath your feet and hawks circle the airs above, the fresh air their territory in this vast land.
Welcome to Sky’s Haven, traveller. Kick up your feet, have a drink and settle down for a bit. We hope you enjoy your stay.
-- Aesir Iron-Blood, gate guard of Sky’s Haven
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Roads stretch to the east and west from the main forefront, leading to the Waterfront and Highlands respectively. In the very center of the city is the local tavern, the Sultry Dragon, and the highlight of activity in the walls. A wooden dragon head stretches high to the sky upon its tiled roof, welcoming those who step foot inside.
Across the bridges, one will find various businesses and homes about, balancing on wooden logs that sink deep into the mud bed of the river below. Dragonflies flit above the water’s edge and it’s even possible to see the great Sky Haven temple on the mountains above on a clear day.
This is the place to grab a drink from the bar, chat with friends or even find the town crier from the nearby capital of Markarth visiting to call some announcements to those who will listen.
In the middle of the city, a small log cabin stands proud upon stone, the rough wood bearing various scratches and marks upon the walls. A wide porch makes it’s way around three sides of the building and is littered with small collections of mead-stained table and chairs. The wide double-doors are almost always open (during opening hours at least) and the noise of chatter, laughter and clinking bottles can be heard from within.
Entering the tavern, you’ll find a wide hearth that bears a roaring fireplace, the stonework etched with various memorial dates and names around it. A banner of the Reach hangs on either side of the doorframe, accompanied by animal trophies, fur pelts and antlers hanging on the walls around the tavern. The whole place has the feel of a hunting lodge rather than a tavern, but regardless, it is often filled with common folk escaping their jobs and the cold weather that often overcasts the town.
Beyond the bar is the pride and joy of the inn - A huge dragon skull, worn and weathered, with a sword piercing it’s left eye socket (Now, that is a story sure worth telling!) Out the back is a small kitchen, off-limits to customers and houses small staff quarters, which are simple bedrolls hidden amongst the storeroom.
The tavern bartender is an Imperial woman by the name of Claria Varro, a kind yet no-nonsense type of woman who can throw a punch with the best of Nord women. With dark hair and olive skin like her brethren down south, she is a unique sight in this Nordic inn. With a sweet smile, she is sure to serve up a mug of ale for those who bid her greetings and tend to any new travellers seeking rooms.
Up on the mountain-sides from the Karth River, the Highlands are seated and they overlook the rest of the town, only second to Sky Haven Temple. The Highlands is mostly populated by rich yet quiet farmer-folk who tend to keep to themselves but are welcoming none the less. A winding stone path of cobble makes it’s way from the Town Center upwards and gradually becomes stone steps that form a snaking stepping grounds throughout the area. Small farms also populate the area, mostly of wheat and vegetables but also housing goats and chickens.
Lodges and double-story houses form the default appearance throughout here, arching out in a semi-circle pattern from the nearby overlook. Descending from the mountain sides are carved dragon heads, like those upon the nearby Blade’s temple and it is quite clear that much influence for this section of town originated from there.
From the main circle of houses to the west lies the two rival guild buildings of the Fighter’s and Mage’s Guilds. With their banners flying high and bearing their insignia, it is quite curious that both factions chose this small city as their home.
A little down from the Highland’s is the entrance to the Guard Barracks and their forge, tended by a huge orc called Gurlag Gro-lazugh, who doesn’t like visitor’s poking around but will sell them new gear if needed. Near him is the deep well and the roadway that leads over the hills to Soljund’s Sinkhole, a moonstone mine and stone quarry.
Sky’s Haven’s guard force is a small twenty-man team that is mostly made up of law-abiding citizens of the settlement. Based in a small stone building off from the Town Center, the Barracks was once a Blade's tower until a rogue dragon attack from years ago destroyed it. The city scavenged what architecture they could and built the local barracks into the mountainside.
A great door dips into the stone, like those that are high up in the Sky Haven temple guarding the Blade's sacred home. The architecture inside, however, is much less noble. At the entrance, a simple check-in desk and a guard sits, ready to check those who wish to enter to report crimes and to record them. From there, a corridor leads to the main barracks, where guards sleep and eat. To the left, a door leads down to the makeshift cells, simple cages with chains to hold potential prisoners.
Citizens are not normally allowed down in the barracks, for obvious reasons, but if you do find yourself here, know you are being watched.
On one side of the wide street that marks the main avenue of houses in the Highlands is the grand and intimidating building that marks the FIghter’s Guilds headquarters. Crafted of stone and logs, it resembles a traditional Nordic lodge with a overhanging balcony above and huge double-doors. Flags bearing the insignia of the guild hang above, flapping even in the slightest breeze and bearing the image of two crossed swords and a shield.
Inside the first room is the main hall, a sandy training ground set in the dead center, where both members and non-members can train their skills against dummies and targets (the latter party pays a small fee however). To the right are the quarters, going up two stories, where the guild rests their head. To the left is the armoury, stocked to the brim with whatever the guild needs at any given moment. The Guildmaster’s office is also here, where they can keep a close eye on their stock and their kin.
Ironically, right next door to the Fighter’s Guild is a strange and imposing tower, stretching high into the sky of the city. Crafted of stone and tiles, the Mage’s Guild Tower is a pinnacle of magical technology in an unfamiliar land. From high above, banners of blue and gold hang delicately.
Inside is a place of wondrous magical ability and appearance. The main foyer is a general commen area, with bookshelves lining the walls and various arcane apparatuses scattered about on rough wooden tables. From the main foyer, a winding staircase leads upwards, heading towards more large rooms used for teaching the various schools of magic, an extensive library and finally, at the very top, the archmage’s quarters.
Sweeping along the mighty Karth River, a series of shacks and storage buildings form the section of town known locally as the Waterfront. Like it’s name states, it’s the section of town closest to the water and is where the, ah, ‘less fortunate’ of Sky’s Haven live. Mostly labourers and craftsmen make their homes down here where the proximity to the water provides them with trade and food. While rumours of thievery are common afoot here, the guards simply wave them off and keep the peace as best as they can.
A series of steps leads down from the town center into this area, before the planks sink into the mud bed and force one to balance along a small make-shift pier. This side of the river features houses and the occasional sinkhole, while the other holds the large dock house holding most of the city’s small crafts. Various smaller businesses are also along here, selling sub-par goods and animals for those with less in their pockets.
Winding alleyways form between these houses, forming make-shifts alleyways that most locals can navigate them better then any sailor across the seas of Nirn. Curiously enough, exposed dwemer pipes also make their appearance every now and again, wide enough for a man to slide through but often hot with steam.
Poor or rich, noble or peasant, if you're in the mood for a waterfront stroll, this is your domain.
Thieves Guild Den
Calling this place ‘a den’ is an insult to those who reside within in it. They prefer to refer to it more as ‘home sweet home, if home stunk of shit’. Set underneath the local boathouse, the Den is one safe house of many for the Thieves Guild.
Hidden beneath a completely innocent looking secret door in a wardrobe, the den is a stone circular room that resembles a well, with small alcoves for the thieves to rest up in after a hard night’s work. Smelling of sewage, dead fish and sweat, the Den might not be a pleasent place to live but it offers some decent services to those who might need it.
Tomb of the Dovahkiin
Deep within the Karthspire, a proud and grand building stands near the city entrance, a monument to one of the grandest of Nord heroes of this age - The Dragonborn, slayer of Alduin the worldeater, scorne of Harkon and the defeater of the First Dragonborn himself. This tomb was built after his passing and is solemn and sacred place for those of Sky’s Haven. Criminal activities here are treated with swift action.
Once a barrow for the dead of the city, the back of this tomb has been transformed into a great shrine for the Dragonborn, a carved statue of his likeness poised over a stone coffin, said to contain his very remains. This is also the only location in Sky’s Haven where someone can see the Blades, two of them are always guarding over this location from high balconies near the roof, armed with their infamous curved sword and a bow. Pilgrims of all kinds flock here to see his tomb, but the place is quiet, respectful, and quaint enough.
Other people are interred here in the various twisting corridors and there is also shrines to the Nine Divines too, which can cure any disease if 50 gold is donated. Various priests and priestess’ also dwell here, tending to wounded civilians seeking aid or performing the rights of Arkay, if needed to.
Once a haven for bandits, this cleared area is known as the best place to train yourself and spar against both friend and enemy. Both Markarth and Sky's Haven guards occasionally wander here but being outside the limits has it's dangers and those that make their way out here must be accepting of that fact.
A ancient and crumbling Nordic ruin sits upon the ridge, serving as a shelter and rest house to those that come here and offers a magnificent view of the Karth River below. The hillside is steep and deadly here, offering certain doom to those that slip from the edge.
Trees border the eastern edge of the land, creating a small woodland where both game and predators can occasionally be found lurking amongst the trees. It is both a sanctuary and the wilds, so keep your wits about you if you venture here.
Deep below the town, a labyrinth of twisting golden tunnels snakes it’s way through the ground, filled with the automatons of old. Dwemer mechanics still haunt these caves, daring anyone who enters to face their blades and bolts. Guards dare not to go down here, out of fear and superstition.
If you make it past the trawling contraptions, you will eventually find the tunnels all go back and forth, no clear indication where they go. Various doors are set in the walls, great locks sealing them shut.
Whatever was here, it is long gone and only dust and mice can be found down here...
Beyond the third door on the left, if you manage to open it with a unique key that is, you will find yourself entering the true heart of this Dwemer run. The further you edge in, the louder the screams grow…
Hidden in this ruin is an arena of sorts, circular, on bare stone and surrounded by golden dwemer gates. Seats line the ascending floor above it, looking down upon those who enter the pit. Around this area is a small shanty-town of sorts, tents and metal mixing together to become a canvas city on stone. When the moon is high, the arena can be found stained with blood as combatant battle it out against dwemer contraptions, wild beasts and even their fellow man for glory and coin.
Further on through here, one can find a large room that has a centurion (inactive, thankfully) mounted upon a pedestal and what appears to be a makeshift chapel around it. Artifacts of all kinds are on display, sealed in cases and there are even some still trawling machines clinking around in cages and enclosed rooms.
This is the Crucible, a hidden secret area of the city that belongs to a mysterious cult only known as the Order of Time’s Light. Obsessed with the Dwemer and its artifacts, this ‘church’ is run by a brutal and foul-tempered Argonian who calls himself ‘The Prophet’ to those who attend. If you do choose to join, be aware, this is a lifetime membership.