A Breath to Savour

My name, well… that doesn’t matter. My father, well nor does he. My surname, where I’m from, it all matters. But I, am not my home.

I, am, Dragonborn. But I would not know that until the raid, but that, I knew not of until later than that.

But my legend must begin somewhere. No? So I shall, tell it now, now that I am done, now that I, Dovahkiin, I am permanent.

I awoke to another day sitting amongst the ashes that fell, evermore would they, for eras to bring wind to this forsaken land. I lay for ages, trying for the will of consciousness. But never was it will, but the damned bells that awoke me. I was not ready, but the yams wouldn’t tend to themselves. I hated farming, and by Azura I would stop as soon as it was willed by monetary gain.  I arose from my straw bedding, grabbed my pants, and stepped out of the door, to the stinky air, and grey caked ground, which seemed to rise every day. I walked to the barrel of water that set beside my door, and splashed my face, waking me up and washing the sleep from my eyes. I stepped onto the steps leading to the makeshift shed beside my makeshift shack, and grabbed my hoe; it was dirty and rusted well beyond repair, through still sturdy. I held it in my hands, looking at it with a sigh and began the day’s work. Over the years, farm work becomes easier, though it was still taxing on my mind and body. The silence was deafening. Bu now it seems like such a treat.I took breaks to wipe my brow, and eat a bit of stale bread. My sister never bothered me, thus I never antagonized her as many older siblings do, lest she start to complain.  The day was hotter than the norm, but tolerable nonetheless. My life was like this most days, but every month or so, we would venture to Blacklight and sell a harvest. That was the highlight of my mundane existence.

I would sell what I could, and I would get my share for labor. That would be when I set off to anywhere that would sell magic. Though I had grown a fancy to “Alidreen’s Magic and Metal”, which was a shop, a little east of the Rootspire.  I became good friends with the owner, who was named Alidreen, big surprise that was. He would call me “Altaka” I didn’t know what he meant then, but it makes sense now. But I never got to know how he knew my future. He was a simple man, who would sell swords, and spells. As well as robes and on the odd occasion armor. I had bought my first sword from him. It was made of steel, with a shiny blade, though serrated on the clearly intended false edge of the blade. The crossguard was broad, but short, just passing my wrist. It was decorated with an engraving on the pummel and crossguard. It was in Aldmeris, I was told it said “Blood and iron” on it. I loved that thing. I spent almost a year saving up for it. Though some could have bought it on the spot, 900 Septims is a lot for a small farmer. Though the old man sold it to me for 775 Septims it was still a long time to wait. I was ever so thankful that he waited for me to save the money, even for the extended period it was. Although I was unskilled, I was happy and at the time that’s what mattered. So I was, happy and broke.

The average Dunmer would have laughed at my attempts at entertainment, futile attempts at that, but attempts nevertheless. I loved having the blade and being 18 at the time, it was endless novelty. I had that sword for 10 years, and spent most of my spare money during that period on spells. Well as oils to fight off the rust buildup.  I was decent with the sword; though, I was completely self taught. Therefore, I wasn’t the warrior I thought I was. Basically, I was a moron hoping to be something more. I could take on any scarecrow in the land! I was a vicious pup, trying to be a wolf. I had been 35 when the sword would actually make a use. I was a decent warrior, and a mage. Nothing to make light of when used in unison. Fire was my specialty, and blood was my calling. I loathed my occupation, I wanted to be a guard, or a adventurer. But I loved my sister too much to leave her in this harsh land, she couldn’t bargain, or even farm. My father was ill, and mother gone. What would she do all alone? I had come home from a long trip to my friend Alidreen’s shop, I bought a new spell. It was a simple healing spell. It would come in handy it I got a splinter. I knew two other spells, a spark spell, and a fire spell. They both were basic, and fun. They were all that I could afford. My sister would always love it when I would give her a show. Like lighting the fire with magic, or shocking a spider. I always regretted that.

I walked into the house, and sat on the chair in the center of the room.

The air was tense, even more so than my poor body. My sister, Alija, was in another room. I knew this from the noise that was coming from the back room. In the world, there were only two places in which I felt comfortable: home and Alidreen’s. That, felt almost compromised in the still air, and broken walls that hardly kept the ash storms at bay. I let the chair that belonged to my mother, engulf me in its old and relaxing embrace that signified the days’ end.

“Brother? Returned so soon?” Alija called in a welcoming voice.

“Yes Alija, I am home. Home and tired. Have you plans for dinner?” I said, being me, straight to the point, and brutally honest. A quality hardly appreciated in the world.

“No, I’m sorry. I’ve been busy with washing the clothes. As it turns out, we had an entire stack of laundry just sitting in the back. So I have been working at that for the last few hours.” Alija spoke softly as to not stir me from my relaxed state. It is similar to that of a potato, but slightly more sentient.

“How is Alidreen? Well, I hope.” Alija inquired.

I glance in her direction, sending a grunt and a slight nod as a response.

“Well you’re feeling quite descriptive this day.” She said, walking into the room, sweat dripping down her brow.

I looked at her, and raised my hand to stroke my beard. I got up, and walked into the back room, looking at the intimidating mound of clothes. On the ground, it stood half a meter high, almost everything our family owned.

“As you see, it is quite indimidating.” Alija spoke behind me. She stepped in front of me, looking at me worriedly. “Are you well? You’re looking quite tired, and aren’t speaking much at all!” She was sounding worried as she looked.

I placed my hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eye. “I am fine dear sister, just exhausted from my trip. As you know, the journey to Blacklight is long and taxing.”I shifted my feet and gaze toward the pile of stagnant cloth. I walked to it, smelling the odor of mer-musk, and dirt. I inspected closely, and beckoned her over. I knelt down, and grasped a red tunic. As she hovered over my shoulder, she spoke something inaudible to my ears, but her tone said enough. I got up, raising the tunic to head level, and gestured to the barrel of water. She nodded briefly saying more than a sentence within a lone movement. I began the slow job of washing some of the clothes in the graying water. Hours went by and I sat doing an unofficial duty of making sure we had more than our flesh to present to the world, I soon realized that as the water blackened with grime, that it would become less effective to wash out attire in. As I got up to change the murky liquid, Alija called me from across the house. I prioritized her summon over my task, so I dried off my hands, and walked into the large room that housed our cooking spit and fire.

“Can you get some more yams from the farm outside? I need three more.” She said expertly preparing meat for the pot. I stood in place for a moment, gazing at her handiwork with the blade, how with one swift motion, she could turn a thick cut of meat, into miniscule cubes. She looked up at me, a quizzical look on her face. I snapped back to Nirn with a jolt, and stepped out of the door to a chilly night. The air carried a dread that was only present on bloody nights, a certain chill capable of felling even the strongest of Nords. I looked off into the distance, seeing the silhouette of the fence, and shed. I sighed, seeing my breath displayed before me. My footsteps crunched with each fell in the ashen ground, making me wary. I stepped into the fenced enclosure for our wild yams, and plucked three from the ashen soil, and began my short trek home. I walked into the door, to the aroma of boiling meat, and the portal-like warmth of the crackling fire.

“I have the blasted yams!” I called as I walked in. “I think another ash storm is coming tonight! Best not go outside.” I said walking up to her. I put my hand on her shoulder as she worked, and held the yams up in the other hand. “Where did you want these?” I said softly.

“Umm… There.” She said, pointing at the small cutting board.

I Set them down, lining them up in a straight line, and looked at her.

“If there’s nothing else that you need, I’ll be going upstairs to Father. Make sure he’s well.” I looked at her slim face. She looked at me with her pretty red eyes.

“No, go ahead brother.” I began walking away as she said, “Oh, and let him know he stew’ll be ready in about five minutes!”

I sighed in relief. I was quite hungry after my venture. The stairs were old, and rickety. Most likely from years of helpless traffic of cold iron. My father hated the quiet farm life, and was desperate to be rid of it at earliest convenience. Of course as luck or fate would have it, he was stricken with a case of rockjoint. He has been bedridden for two weeks now. Unable to move, for more than a few paces. Alas, his condition has been on a bad run as of late. His passing is an eminent reality that we are ill prepared to face.

I took each pace lightly, and hoped for the best. I have never been a carpenter, but I have tried the best that I have been able to fix the old nigh irreparable stairs. But to lacking avail. I walked onto the platform we used as a room for Father, and saw him lying asleep on the small bed. He looked at peace as he rested, if I didn’t just see his chest rise and fall, I would think him gone.

I slowly took my smallest stride to him, and got down to my knees beside him. “Father?” I said in the softest tone I could muster in my aching chest. He let out a soft irritated grunt. “Wake up, Alija has almost finished the stew.” I said, giving him a weak shove. “Father, if you do not wake up we cannot feed you. Now you do not want that.” As my words fell onto the stale air, his eyes shot open. “Welcome back.” I said in my dry humour.

“Yes son I am alive… for now.” He sounded weaker and weaker by the day. I was dreading the day that became the hour. To see him like this, the proud warrior reduced to a pile of stiff flesh, and rasped breath, hardly a century and a half into his life.

I looked on at him, feeling pity and sorrow. This may have been apparent on my face for his words spoke of it.”Son, don’t pity me. I am not well, I know this.” His voice carried an unnatural rasp. “but do not remember me as a diseased husk, an unwilling servant to my affliction, or a man unable to care for himself or his children. Don’t remember me for the last weeks. Remember me for who I was.” His eyes were heavy. “Son, I love you, I would do anything in this world for you. I am on my last day, my final breath draws near. I can feel it, in my heart and bones.” His hand reached up shakily. I took it, with great sadness. “By all that is holy, know my love for you or your sister will not die as my body will. But know I am dying.” I see something I have only seen one other time. A tear, a glisten in his eye, falling down his grey, and sickly face. The same look, the same tear, the same tone. This detail, this look, told me he was serious, he was to draw his last breath soon. The creak of footsteps behind me, said that Alija was near. She began to speak, but I raised my hand to silence her. “Ah… my beautiful daughter. You look just like your mother. Strong, beautiful.” Seeing him like this was heartbreaking, it put a block of iron in my chest as my heart fell.

Alija quickly set down the bowl of stew, and ran to my side, her hand, clasping his that was in mine. “Father, hang on, we’ll get you help. Come on, use your magic! You must know something!” She said with a desperate voice, one of anger and desperation.

“Sister, I know no spell to save him. I-I…” I was losing my thoughts. They were lifting from my grasp as I came to understanding of my father’s words. “Why? You can’t leave, not yet! I forbid it!” Alija shouted.

He let out a weak laugh. “There are some things you cannot stop. My daughter, I love you, but we will part ways soon. We will see each other soon.” His eyes drooping. “Son, my sword. I will not need it anymore, take it, and my helm…” A deep breath, a breath to savour, to remember. “et… It will serve you well. Son, remember who donned that helm, fighting for Mournhold. Alija, I love you… But remember… to… love each other… for you are all you have now…” Another breath, intense, yet unstable. “My time grows shallow. I feel my spirit waning.”

First one tear, then another, then another like a waterfall, pouring down uncontrollably from my eyes. I felt his grip weaken, falling away into the void. “No.. please, not both of you.” I said, trying to speak up, but only managing a weak whisper.

A breath.


Then silence.

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  • I was sitting on this for a while. Figured you lot would like it. This is all I have right now.

  • Took a while before I could get around to reading this but I do quite like it. Definitely looking forward to more.

    • Sorry, there's no more. I have no plans on making more. Just thought you guys might like an old project of mine since it was so topical.
      I guess if enough people ask I'm willing to pick it back up, but I'm pretty busy.


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