Chapter Four: High King's Court


“Do I look alright?” In hindsight, I shouldn't have asked a dragon.

Odahviing raised his head from the river where he was drinking, water dripping from his lips. He stared at me blankly before grumbling, “You look the same as you did two minutes ago. Nothing has changed.”

I frowned. “I meant, do I look presentable to enter the Palace of Kings?”

“Ah,” the dragon hummed, “you are wanting me to comfort you. Yes, your looks are unchanged.”

“Odahviing,” I groaned, taking a deep breath as I stared at my reflection in the water. “I am speaking with the High King of Skyrim and his court. Do I look decent enough for such an occasion?”

“Reistigaar,” he responded, though I could see a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.“You have been here many times. They have seen your face before and have yet to be frightened away. You will surely be fine this time as well.” The dragon lowered his mouth back to the water, a chuckle gurgling from his throat.

I cursed him under my breath. “I really hate you sometimes. Truly, I do.” I wouldn't have been so worried if anyone else from the court called me. I had been summoned by Galmar on a few occasions, Queen Talia on a few more. Being summoned by High King Ulfric, however, was something that rarely occurred. In fact, he only asked for me when something was beyond even his control. If his men couldn't handle this dragon attack on their own, it must have been more severe than he let on.

My rippled reflection was all I had to go on in terms of looks. I cupped the freezing water in my hands as I knelt down, splashing it on my face and scrubbing off all the bits of mud and filth that might have accumulated in Black Marsh. After doing the same to my neck and arms, I hastily looked over my robes. Upon close inspection, they were just as disgusting, but the black fibers and metals were just dark enough to hide the blood stains from quick scrutiny. I resolved within myself to actually give them the care they deserved when I had a moment to rest. I hated laundry day, but it was a necessary evil.

As I stood back up, the sharp pain in my calf made me stumble. While the worst of it had been healed through magical means, it was still sore and tender. It didn't help that I hadn't stretched since we left Eyes' hut the day before. “Fraan bek? Are you feeling alright, Dovahkiin?” Despite his earlier teasing, I could hear the concern radiating in Odahviing's tone. My eyes shifted over to him to find him staring just as intently. “I will fly you to his courtyard, should you need it. Perhaps he will meet you here instead?”

I chuckled, shaking my head. “I'm not going to make King Ulfric come all the way out here for me, and I don't think it's a good idea for you to go back into the city. You scared the Oblivion out of a lot of people last time we tried a 'grand entrance'.” The dragon chuckled, but he nodded his head all the same. “I'll be fine to walk in on my own. I think walking will actually do me some good.” I placed my hand on his neck for support as I adjusted my stitched up boot over my calf. “Why don't you go talk to Paarthurnax for me? See if he knows or saw anything that could help us out. I'm assuming Ulfric will want us to kill the dragon if he made a point of summoning us. We need all the information we can so we don't walk into a trap like yesterday.”

“Dur niist qeth,” he cursed them with a growl. He turned his gaze away from me and towards High Hrothgar. “The Old One is sure to know something. If not, one of the other dovah surely will. I will search the ground as well.” He looked back at me before grumbling, “You will call if you require me before I return?”

“I always do,” I grinned, “but there is no safer place in all of Tamriel than Windhelm. Besides, who's stupid enough to try and attack me?”

“I can think of more than a few.” At my smirk, he nudged me with his nose. “I will return swiftly. Enjoy your time with your King. Vah su'um ven.”

“Aye,” I responded, patting his cheek before stepping back a few feet to give him some room. “I'll see you in a few hours. Behave yourself.” My playful warning was lost in his chuckle and the sound of rushing wind. His massive wings unfurled themselves, pounding the ground once before he was lifted into the air. The water in front of us splashed and rippled beautifully, but each drop felt like a freezing dart against my skin. I waited until he was a good distance away before trying to dry myself off again.

It seemed like Windhelm grew every time I saw it. There was always some project the architects were working on. My last visit, they just started reconstructing the ancient bridge; this time it looked like they were nearly done. While the bulk of it remained mostly unchanged, I could see the guardrail stones had been patched and replaced where weather and war had damaged them. The guard towers and barracks seemed just a little taller, a few of them even sporting large beacons atop. The familiar blue and silver banners hung strategically from the tower windows and pillars that supported the massive weight. I already began to feel the warmth of home.

As I hobbled up the hill to find the main road, I examined all the farm houses that had recently sprung up from the ground. Each lot of land was small, but they were given enough space and privacy to grow enough crops to support their family and sell to the city. A few even had cows and goats as livestock. I was happy to see some of the dark elves had began finding work outside of the walls as well.

The stables themselves seemed to have expanded as well. Several horses nickered when they saw me approach, anxious to leave their stalls and go on some trek to relieve their energy. I recognized a few of them from the times I had went on hunts with the nobility. It had been a month or two, but we had all been too busy to allow ourselves leisure time.

“Favnir Silver-Tongue!” a loud voice called out from the house adjacent to the stables. I grinned as I saw a familiar Nord approach me, his arms spread wide in greeting. “What honor do I have to see the Dragonborn around this day?”

“Good Afternoon, Holfir,” I greeted, bowing my head. “I was just admiring the horses. They look well as always.”

“Aye, I should hope they do. The nobles pay extra to keep feed in their troughs, but with how little they ride the poor beasts, they'll be getting fat and lazy by the end of winter.” He chuckled softly, crossing his arms over his chest. “What brings you to Windhelm? I haven't seen you pass through in some time.”

“Ah, private business, I'm afraid,” I told him, not wanting to cause more panic than necessary. Thankfully, he caught the hint and didn't press further. I changed the subject as I scanned the animals again. “Queen Talia's mare is missing. Did something happen to her?”

He laughed, though his tone hinted at seriousness. “If something did, I would be out of a job.” He gestured vaguely to the road leading out of town. “No, The Queen left a few weeks ago to head back to Cyrodiil, but I'm expecting her back in a few days. If you stick around, perhaps you'll catch her.”

“I can only hope,” I mused, nodding to him again. “Well, I mustn't keep the King waiting. It was a pleasure, Holfir.”

“The pleasure was mine, Dovahkiin,” the man noted, bowing his head to me before returning to the warmth of his home. The stables used to be home to a young Altmer couple, though I don't remember their names. Queen Talia used to be friends with them, but as I understood the woman was murdered and the man simply disappeared shortly afterwards. It was an odd affair, to say the least, but Holfir stepped right up to continue the necessary business as Stable-master.

As I crossed the bridge, I could hear the bustling city behind the gates. It made me smile. The destruction of Windhelm during the Civil War was devastating. For a long while, it looked as though no one was willing to move into the city or even help with repairs. Now, it seemed like the capital was about to burst at the seams. The guards opened the gates for me, revealing crowds and vendors rushing in every direction. Candlehearth Hall's doors couldn't seem to stay shut as patrons rushed in from the cold or out with mugs of ale in their hands. Left of me, I could hear the echoing of hammer on metal- the sound of the blacksmith refining his craft. To the right, there was the chattering of merchants and nobility, debating whose wares were of better quality. Curious to see how the city was getting along, I decided to take the long way to the Palace of Kings.

I turned right, heading the direction of an old museum that had been made off limits to the public for years. Other than that abandoned corner of Windhelm, the Gray Quarter was alive with activity. Elves and men alike chatted amongst themselves, haggling prices or catching up on events. A couple clung to each other as they left the Gnisis Cornerclub, their drunken whisperings loud enough for all to hear. A child nearly ran into me as she hurried to escape her friends in a deadly game of tag. She giggled madly, so wrapped up in her fear of being “it” that she didn't even mutter an apology. It was delightful to watch.

I pressed onward until I reached a guard tower that overlooked the docks. I peeked over the wall to see a few ships docked and unloaded, while several more still waited in the bay. Nords and Argonians worked to unload shipment from their various employers. Guards patrolled to keep the peace and calm any overly angry captains. The cold weather and icy seas made everyone down there miserable, so they had to be ready to keep the peace.

I finally made the loop back towards the Palace of Kings, finding myself at the bottom of the stairway that led into the courtyard. The guards that stood post greeted me by name, but I dismissed them with a simple nod. I was far more focused on the colorful people that scattered themselves about. Dressed in vibrant colors and fancy garments, nobles, thanes and businessmen lingered in the sheltered court. They chatted about absolutely everything- from the weather in Markarth to the food in Elsweyr. They took shelter around a couple small fire pits, but otherwise they looked content with themselves. I didn't waste time among them or stop for more than a minute to greet them, though. The nobility would talk my ear off about what they wanted from me if I gave them the chance.

The final set of guards opened the doors to the Palace interior, welcoming me to a much warmer environment than the one outside. I stepped into the main hall, my eyes scanning the comfortable interior. Banners decorated the walls from ceiling to floor, and a guard seemed to be positioned at every one. There was a large table in the center of the room, set and ready for the evening meal. I could already smell the stew brewing and taste the crunch of fresh baked bread. The chandeliers and candelabras were all a glow, some of the maids changing out the melted candles to replace them with new ones.

Despite all the comforts that I had grown to love, something felt off. The room was devoid of the familiar faces of the King's Court. Ulfric wasn't seated upon his throne, bickering with Galmar about something petty. Kaita wasn't pestering Jorleif and Nismyn, and Talia wasn't trying to keep the chaos in check. Instead, the entire room was oddly still and quiet. I felt myself being watched.

I halted my steps as I reached the center of the hall, my eyes scanning the emptiness. One of the guards stared at me intently, a faint smirk on her lips. I tilted my head, curious, as her eyes shifted behind me. It was too late to brace myself for impact; the sound of running footsteps across the stone floor came to an abrupt halt as I was tackled to the ground. I grunted as my invisible attacker's spell broke, revealing him to me as he attempted to pin me to the floor.

None of the guards rushed in to help; there was no need. I could have sent him flying with a mere word, but the sound of his joyous laughter was enough to keep my fear at bay. His small hands grabbed my wrists and his almost impossibly light weight positioned itself on my stomach. The child laughed happily as he stared down at me, his curly brown hair falling into his eyes. “I got you, Uncle Favnir! I finally got you!”

“You did!” I laughed in response, easily freeing my hands and wrapping them around him. “Now, it's my turn to get you!”

He squealed as I fought to restrain him, “Freyya! Help!”

Like a hero of old, another child charged from a connected corridor, searching for the source of her cousin's distress. As her gray eyes settled upon me, she wasted no time in joining the fight. Contrary to the boy's magic and stealth, she relied on something more brutal and primal: a wooden sword. “Finally a worthy opponent!” she laughed as she ran towards us. I heard Galmar's voice echoing in her own.

My eyes widened as I realized she really wasn't playing around. She lunged at me without holding back. I narrowly rolled out of the way, releasing the boy who still struggled in my grip. “Easy, easy! I don't even have a weapon!” I tried to reason with her.

“Better find one!” she taunted with a grin. She paused a moment, helping the boy up. “Did you get him this time?”

“Yeah, yeah!” he cheered triumphantly. “He didn't even see me when he came in! Not even with his magic!” I didn't want to tell him that I wasn't scrying for him when I entered, as that would just thoroughly kill his joy. Instead, I let him bask in his little victory. “It's your turn now!”

“Wait,” I laughed, falling to my knees before them and offering my empty hands. “I surrender. You two are just too strong for me now.” I turned one of my hands over, entrancing them with a vibrant green glow as I fabricated a translucent beautiful flower in my palm. “Take this, my lord and lady, as a sign of peace.”

The children watched the magic for a minute before looking at each other. Thye spoke without words, somehow communicating in a silent language I couldn't decipher. The mischief in their eyes, however, was very recognizable. The girl pointed her blunt weapon at me while the boy put his hands on his hips. He grinned as he spoke. “We accept, but only if you let us see the dragon.”

I smirked, dismantling the flower with a wave of my hand. “Odahviing isn't here. He's busy with... dragon things.”

“Then there is no peace,” the girl said simply, pursing her lips.

“Okay,” I chuckled, “then back to war!” I quickly snatched her sword, tossing it aside and tacking the both of them before either could run away. Their weaker, smaller bodies fought desperately to escape, but they were simply no match for the Dragonborn. They laughed and squealed for help, but the guards in the room stayed at their posts, highly amused by the events.

I heard a loud door open followed by quick, light footsteps. “By the Nine! What are you two doing in here?” The woman rounded the corner, her green eyes settling on me as I tangled with the two children. Her long curly hair was the same vibrant red as the girl in my arms. Her elegant, emerald dress flowed behind her, giving the once rugged warrior a much more dignified appearance. I always thought she was beautiful, but even more so at that moment. Her expression changed quickly from annoyance to recognition. “Ah, it's Favnir,” she called back down the hall. “It seems the 'soldiers' have gotten to him first.”

“Hello, Lady Kaita,” I hummed, bowing my head with a smile. She returned the gesture, clearly just as amused by our interaction as the guards. “They rejected my peace offer, so we are at war.”

“It appears you're winning,” she mused, walking towards us.

“Always,” I teased. My eyes shifted past her as another figure entered the room. Galmar grinned widely as he set me in his sights. His beard was white and gray, but he had aged well, especially for one who fought in so many wars. He wore a dark blue tunic, but his gauntlets and boots were still the same heavy armored material I had always seen him in. As he approached to stand by his wife, I greeted him just as respectfully. “It's a pleasure to see you again, sir.”

He chuckled darkly, his old raspy voice echoing across the hall, “They have been planning an ambush since we sent you the letter. Yet, they still lost. Perhaps there is a lesson to learn here.”

“I got to hit him harder next time,” Freyya responded.

Galmar laughed, but his daughter's response wasn't near as amusing to Kaita. “Or, maybe you should learn to choose your battles better?” The girl pouted, making the woman giggle. “Why don't you and Gaius go play with outside awhile? I'm sure Uncle Favnir is tired and needs a rest.”

I slowly let the two of them go, handing Freyya back her sword. She got to her feet, but the boy lingered in my grip. He smiled at me, looking almost expectant as he spoke. “You really didn't see me? I actually snuck up on you this time?”

“Really,” I assured him, sharing the pride he felt over that accomplishment. “You've been practicing what I taught you?” When he nodded, I put my hand on his shoulder. “You're going to be a mage in no time, Gaius. Tell you what: whenever I'm done with this boring, old adult stuff, I'll come find you and teach you a new spell. Sound good?”

“Yes sir!” he cheered happily, climbing out of my lap and getting to his feet. He quickly ran for the door, in a hurry to catch up with Freyya.

“You're out of breath, Dragonborn,” Galmar chucked, offering his hand down to me.

I took it, returning his smirk with my own. “Fighting dragons has nothing on children,” I told them. “They're getting stronger every time I see them.”

“As tends to happen with children,” Kaita hummed in amusement. “They're manageable now, but I fear for you in the next year or so. They will be a terrifying force with maturity.”

“Indeed,” I agreed, trying to imagine how I could contend with the two of them when they were nearly full grown. Freyya had a full year ahead of her cousin, but the boy was already quite a bit taller. When they learned how to properly hold a blade and weave spells, I would have my work cut out for me. At least they still held me in high esteem.

Galmar hummed as he motioned me to follow him, turning back towards the hallway from which he came. “The others are in the study. Bjorn just came in with his results of the Ivarstead investigation. I'm sure you'll want to hear it.” I followed behind Kaita as we walked down the hall to a heavy wooden door. The noises behind it were muffled until the old Nord opened it and stepped inside. “Favnir Silver-Tongue has arrived.”

I stepped into the study with a warm smile. The old war room was nearly unrecognizable. There was still a large desk in the room's center, but rather than a map there were children's drawings and books mixed in with courier letters and journals. Around the room, several large chairs and benches were positioned to face the desk. Galmar and Kaita returned to their seats next to Jorleif, the steward. Somehow, the ancient court wizard was still alive- though half asleep- in a chair across from them. At one end of the room, the Nord Nismyn slouched back casually in his chair. At the other end, Bjorn stood with a journal in hand, his Stormcloak officer armor still wet from the snow outside.

Finally, my eyes landed on the man seated in a chair furthest from me. His brown hair was tinged with silvers, but he still looked a youthful as ever. Upon his head sat a simply circlet. His robes were a blend of silvers and blues, held tightly together at his shoulder with a bear-head pendant. At the sight of my king, I placed my hand over my heart, bowing my head reverence. “High King Ulfric Stormcloak, it is an honor to see you again.”

He chuckled, rising to his feet to meet me. His hands grabbed my shoulders as he stared down at my slightly shorter form. “You may drop the formalities, Dragonborn. When have I ever required you to use them?”

“Never, my lord,” I chuckled softly, “but I should still greet you with all the respect you are due.” The man shook his head, motioning me to take a seat among the rest of his inner court. “I hope I didn't cause too much of a distraction.”

Bjorn smiled warmly, walking over and handing me his notes. “Not at all. You may find these of use in your search.” He paused a moment. “That is, assuming you agree to look for this dragon.”

I took the notes from his hands, scanning them a moment before looking back to Ulfric. “Of course I'm going to look into this for you, but I'm going to need to know what happened.”

The king nodded, motioning to Nismyn at the far end of the room. He was a much younger Nord than the others in the room, closer to my age than even Bjorn. His light brown hair was tied behind him which left only a few short strands to fall into his face. His light green eyes met mine for a brief second before he looked away. The man was always shy, but I attributed that to his smaller, weaker stature. Queen Talia neglected to tell most of us her relation to the man, but he won her trust enough to become a permanent member of her court. His voice was gentle and soft, reminding me greatly of the queen herself, “Reports say the dragon had been looming in the area from Helgen to Ivarstead for a few days. Supposedly the Stormcloaks went to investigate and the dragon attacked them.”

“Completely unprovoked? It doesn't make the situation better, but perhaps he was just hungry.”

Nismyn shook his head. “No, he didn't eat them.”

Bjorn walked over to me, pointing out some parts of the notes. I read aloud for the entire group to hear, “'Armor, weapons, and bones remained intact. Flesh and fabric had been burned away with an intensity and swiftness of close range attack.' How in Oblivion- better, why in Oblivion did they get so close to it?”

Bjorn frowned. “From their positions and the damages in the area around, it appeared as though they didn't approach the beast. It approached them. Whether they were too slow or too bold to run from it is unclear.” He turned back to Ulfric. “Should I garrison more men in the area, my King? Should the dragon choose to attack civilians...”

His voice trailed off, but Ulfric shook his head. “Favnir has more experience with them than any of us.” His hazel eyes focused back on me, a slight smile hidden beneath his beard. “What are you thinking, Dragonborn? Can you handle this alone, or should we lend more support to the Rift?”

I kept scanning the notes, trying to imagine the horror those Stormcloaks experienced in their last moments. I needed to see the scene for myself to truly know where to begin my investigation, but the last thing I wanted was the King to worry about something I could easily handle. “I think I can find him myself, Your Highness. If he's looking for a fight, squads of Stormcloaks are going to make perfect targets. I would recommend keeping the citizens of Falkreath Hold and the Rift within the cities and limit the size of traveling groups. He won't be looking for small targets, and the city guards can handle a beast well enough.”

“What about the white dragon?” Kaita asked, catching my attention. “He's been patrolling since you left Skyrim. Surely he's seen something?”

I nodded, “I sent Odahviing to speak with Paarthurnax and search the area. I'll meet him when we're finished up here.” I scanned over the faces of the court, feeling myself smile. None of them had a shred of worry in their expressions. They knew I could capture the dragon, and they could rest easy. It was a good feeling to have their trust and support, especially in times like that. “When we get rid of him, I'll be sure to let you all know.”

“Aye,” Ulfric responded, bowing his head in thanks. He looked around the room, motioning with his hand. “Does anyone have anything else they require of the Dragonborn?”

Galmar rose to his feet, making Kaita raise a brow suspiciously. The old man kept his expression neutral as he called out, “Indeed!” Even Ulfric looked interested as his old friend stared me down. “I would invite you to join us for dinner this evening. It's been awhile since we've gotten you to ourselves.” He chuckled as his expression gave way to joy. “I'm interested in what stories you have to share with us since you've been away.”

I smirked at him before looking around the room. The eager faces of the entire court rested upon me as they awaited my response. “Of course, Lord Galmar. I think you all will enjoy what happened in Black Marsh.”

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

I was awfully glad I did decide to stay in the Palace. By the time our meeting was done, a full on blizzard was roaring outside the stone walls. Inside however, the entire Palace was warm and lively. We all sat at the big table in the main hall, waited on by the kitchen staff and the maids. I found no limit on the amount of stew I was served and the ale seemed to flow just as easily. Between Galmar and Ulfric's hearty laughs that rattled the walls and the bickering of the children that sat on either side of me, I almost began to envy those that had families to share such moments with readily.

“Uncle Favnir,” Gaius started as he finished his bowl of stew, “can you teach me more magic now?”

“Let him rest, son,” Ulfric chuckled, amused to see the eagerness and attention of his child directed at someone else. “He's been traveling for days on end. I'm sure he can show you something when he's returned.”

As the young boy frowned, I nudged him slightly. “Besides, it's not very good manners to play with magic at the table.” My jest brought the smile back to his lips. “After dinner, alright?”

“Sounds good to me!” Gaius laughed as he looked back down at his empty bowl. He glanced at my bowl before whispering, “Can you eat a little faster though?”

I laughed, much harder than I anticipated. I loved those children. Even under awful circumstances, their joy and innocence never failed to make me smile. If I ever had children of my own, I wanted them to be just like those two- witty, playful, kind, and innocent.

Our joking and merriment became stifled as the doors of the Palace flew open. The snowy gale blew out a couple of the torches and terrified a few distracted guards, but it wasn't near as alarming as the three women who stumbled through the door. Immediately Galmar, Kaita and Ulfric rose to their feet. “Rya's been hit!” one of the women called out. “Where's Wuunferth?”

Without missing a beat, Kaita responded, “He's already went to his chambers.” Her eyes shifted to me, “Can you-”

“Probably,” I cut her off. Judging by the desperate tone of the unknown woman's voice, I knew her friend was barely clinging to life. There wasn't a moment to waste on whether or not I could or couldn't save her life. By the time the old man made it down the stairs, she likely would have bled to death. I rushed after Kaita and the three woman as they disappeared into the study. Galmar and Ulfric were right behind me.

I was finally allowed a good look at the trio. The woman who spoke was a Redguard. Her ebony hair was braided partially behind her and blood dripped from her lips, further suggesting they were all involved in some sort of struggle. The Bosmer across from her was equally disheveled. The worst of the trio was the woman I surmised to be Rya.

She was a Breton- quite a beautiful Breton I might add. She was supported between her companions until they laid her on one of the benches in the study. She sounded as though she was choking, each inhale painful and raspy. I found her robe split and stained in the center of her chest- awfully close to the woman's heart. The bolt that had been fired at her still remained lodged within her torso.

I cursed under my breath, running through a list of things that I needed but didn't have to properly save the woman's life. I looked around before deciding a course of action. “You,” I told the Redguard, “Go wake up the wizard and get as many Potions of Regeneration as he has. Juniper Berries, Namira's Rot, and Nordic Barnacles will blend up a sufficient potion if he has none. Hurry!” As she darted off, I looked at the Bosmer, “I need you to hold her steady and still. If she moves at all, it will kill her for sure.” She nodded and I finally looked at Kaita, “You're going to have to pull the bolt.”

“Tell me when you're ready, Favnir,” she responded quickly, waiting for the Bosmer to hold her friend still. Her thin fingers wrapped around the bolt as tightly as possible. It was the most primal method of removal, but seeing as I lacked any proper tools and the woman's life dwindled with each passing moment, I decided to continue with the plan.

“Now Kaita,” I told her, readying a spell in my hands. The woman quickly pulled the bolt from the opening, fortunately not ripping or stabbing any other tissues around the area. I threw my hands over the exposed wound, casting the strongest restoration spell I knew. Beneath my fingers I could feel the flesh and muscles move back into place. Her gasps seemed slightly less painful, so that was a good sign.

The Redguard rushed back into the room with three narrow vials of the potion. She didn't need my instruction to coax the liquid down her friend’s throat. Only when Rya’s breathing slowed to a heavy, labored pant did we find ourselves breathing a sigh of relief. She swore softly under her breath, her fingers brushing through the Breton's hair. “You better keep breathing, idiot. We can't afford to lose you.” Though her eyes remained closed, the injured woman smiled slightly.

“What happened?” Kaita asked. “You must have been attacked fairly close to get her here in time.”

“We were,” the woman responded. “Some bandits caught us on the road near the old Talos statue.” Her eyes shifted back down to the Breton. “Rya held them off well enough until they wised up and used their crossbow. Mira held them off while we got her out of there. She should be here shortly. There's no way they'd be able to track her through this blizzard.” The Redguard looked back up at me, a kind smile returning to her face. “Thank you, sir. We owe you a great deal for keeping her alive.”

“Sir?” I laughed. I didn't particularly like being called that, especially by someone who was older than me. “I'm Favnir,” I told her, extending my hand. “Favnir Silver-Tongue, Dragonborn.”

She smirked. “We know who you are, Favnir Silver-Tongue.” She purred my name, making her Bosmer friend laugh.

My skin suddenly felt warm as I spoke to them. I rubbed my cheek from the sudden rush, deciding to try and distract myself from their obvious teasing. “Who are you? I've been here plenty of times, but we've never met.”

“I'm Shari,” she told me, looking down at the Breton. “She's Rya, and the elf over there is Brym.”

Despite getting their names, I felt even more confused. “How...” My eyes shifted from the three women to Kaita then to Ulfric and Galmar. “How do you all know each other?”

“Talia never introduced you to her guard?” Galmar's question was one of serious inquiry. “I thought she would have told you.”

Shari frowned. “We actually decided to keep it a secret to all but the three of you,” she motioned to Galmar, Kaita and Ulfric, “however, it appears we will be telling the Dragonborn now.” She brushed the hair from her face with a sigh. “Queen Talia and Nismyn created a private guard to serve as eyes throughout Skyrim. A force as just and devoting as the Penitus Oculatus, yet secretive and discreet as the Dark Brotherhood. There are not many of us, but if something happens, we hear about it. Our services are... varied.”

“Why all the secrecy?” I pressed.

“If everyone knew, they'd be on the lookout,” Brym finally spoke up. She grinned as she noticed my confusion. “You see, people tend to act differently when they think they're being watched. Working from the shadows, we see the true motives of individuals.”

“And hear,” Shari added. She looked up at Ulfric. “I trust you know about the dragon attack outside Ivarstead? Are you aware of how many people were involved?”

“Just three of our soldiers were recovered from the scene,” he responded. His expression faltered as he caught on to what the Redguard was hinting at. “There was another, wasn't there?”

“An Altmer,” Shari responded, certainty in her tone. “Your soldiers were giving her a hard time from what I heard.” There was a tinge of annoyance in her tone that I would claim was borderline accusing. “They left with her, none of them returned. There were only three bodies recovered.”

While the air grew increasingly tense, I decided to speak up. “Why would they harass an Altmer without reason?”

“She likely gave them a reason,” my King grumbled a justification, crossing his arms over his chest. “Regardless, we can't ask them now. The better question is, what happened to the Altmer?”

I scanned Bjorn's notes. “There's no mention of blood or additional bodies at the scene. No tracks other than the ones of the Stormcloaks and dragons. Unless she somehow fled through the trees, I don't-” I caught myself, piecing together the little bits of information here and there. A dragon and an Altmer- a “Sun Elf”... “Krien Fahliil...” I murmured softly. I looked up to see everyone was equally confused. “I think... I think I figured it out. I need to get back to Odahviing.”

“There's a blizzard outside,” Kaita reminded me, putting a hand on my shoulder. She must have sensed that I had started to get worried. She offered me a kind smile before suggesting, “Stay here for the evening- take awhile to actually get some rest- and in the morning, find your dragon. You'll freeze to death out there and won't be able to see anything anyways.”

I started to protest, but Ulfric chimed in rather quickly, “I think that would be the better option, Favnir. After all, there may be some things we need to discuss.” The hint wasn't at all subtle, but it left little room for protest. I was not about to deny my king any information he requested, and anything he had to tell me I would put to good use. With a simple nod of my head, I let him know of my agreeance. His hazel gaze then rested on the three women. “You may all stay here as well. I'll have Jorleif tend to whatever needs you have. When Mira arrives, the guards will direct her to you as well.”

“Thank you, King Ulfric,” the Redguard muttered, though she kept her gaze settled upon the Breton.

The three Nords left the room before I did, but a quiet voice stopped me. “Dragonborn?” I turned to see Rya peeking at me though mostly closed eyelids. Her irises were the lightest shade of blue I had ever seen. For a brief second, it felt as though I were under a spell, paralyzed by those eyes. “Thank you...”

The whisper was deeply sincere and I was at a loss for what to say. I felt that warm feeling in my cheeks again. “I... You... It's alright,” I finally managed to choke out, feeling a rush of embarrassment. “Good evening, ladies,” I muttered, dismissing myself before I could condemn myself more. Of all the times to act like an idiot, it had to be in front of them.

I rubbed my cheeks as I left the room. Back in the main hall, everyone had taken their seats again, already beginning to resume their playful banter. While his court looked happy, I didn't think I could sit back down and return to my good spirits. If my suspicion that the Krien Fahliil had something to do with the Stormcloak attack was correct, it could destroy everything we had done so far. The Thalmor in Skyrim was something we couldn't tolerate. I needed to find Odahviing. We needed to kill that dragon and, with a little luck, the “Krien Fahliil” with him.

<< Chapter Three ~ Chapter Five >>

You need to be a member of THE SKY FORGE to add comments!


Email me when people reply –


  • Good to have a bit of a slower more 'slice of life' style chapter for Favnir as well. I'm thoroughly enjoying both the characters you've got going here! The bits with Galmar's children were delightful. And great work with the dragons as always!

    • I tried to use this chapter to "catch up" so to speak- kinda show where our heroes from In Love and War are now. I'm glad you like Favnir just as much as Zenoya! I'm trying to give them both love before I ruin them. Hahah.

      • Haven't actually gotten around to reading that one yet, but there's enough context here that it makes sense to me regardless!

        • Oh! Then things will make even more sense in DoD if you ever get to it. Haha. Before I even finished In Love and War, I was planning to make this story take place afterwards. So, they kinda go together, but I wanted to make them  independent enough for people who don't want to read one or the other. I'm glad that plan is working out! :D

This reply was deleted.