Caution is advised for younger viewer's, some scenes within contain coarse language, violence, sexual refrences and other mature content. Read on at your own discreation.
4th Era 201, Cyrodiil, County of Bruma
The war still haunted Joramund’s dreams, even after so many years. The cries of woman and children, of his shield brothers dying. All the pain, suffering and destruction caused by the endless hordes of Aldmeri zealots. Everything they had fought for, bled for, died for. It was all for nothing. The emperor had signed the White Gold Concordat, and in doing so he had given the Elves exactly what they had wanted. Worship of Talos - the god of man and the ninth divine had been outlawed to broker a mummer’s farce of fragile peace. A peace he had never asked for. A peace that had taken everything. Everyone.
- Desolate grey sky. Smoke on the wind. A taut rope snapping at the cut of a tired blade. The sudden cawing of ravens taking wing. A man’s solemn scream –
No, the only thing he had now was the thirst for vengeance. It burned in his heart, had etched itself onto his soul, leaving only a cold and bitter shade of a man he had once been. Vengeance was his creed. It was his oath. It was his life. But a man had to eat, and so over the years he had turned to being a wondering sell sword, trading his blade, spell and honour for the clink of coin and a warm meal to see him to the next day.
The cold dank smell of the ruins of Fort Horunn gave way to the crisp mountain air as Joramund made his way outside. He raised his hand shielding his eyes from the glare. Reddish streaks littered the sky as the sun rose over the horizon. He was glad to be out of the ruins, sleep rarely granted him reprieve from the demons that haunted his dreams. He had made camp in the ruins after dispatching the bandits and highwaymen that had been holed up in the old Fort. Their leader had had a hefty price placed on his head and Joramund meant to collect.
The morning air was crisp but the day promised to be clear from the tell of it. Joramund’s mare shied at his approach sensing the bloodied hempen sack at his side. He placed a steady hand on her to calm her as he fastened the trophy to the saddle bags. “Been tracking that one for weeks, the count of Bruma is paying a tidy sum for his head. We’ll be eating well tonight don’t you worry”. The road to Bruma would take him through the chilly mountains and bring him down past Dragon Claw Rock where he hoped to reach the Eastern gate before Nightfall. Joramund finished saddling the old mare and set off into the Highlands with a fresh blanket of frost crackling under hoof.
By the late afternoon the wind had begun to pick up. It eerily whistled off of the stark ridges and snow drifts, sounding more like the distant wailing of some spectre than a breeze. Joramund pressed the old mare onwards, its steamy snort indicating the beast’s displeasure with the cold clime they were in. The sky had remained clear though the wind continued to cut like an icy blade. The steady meander of the mare was kept in rhythm by the dull wet thud of the trophy lulling against her haunch, though it would occasionally turn to a louder slap whenever it was caught by gust of wind. Mead, a wench and a warm fire. Aye that’s my first stop after collecting this sod’s bounty. The thought was an enticing one and Joramund spurred the horse into light canter.
It wasn’t until he was nearly upon the Dragon Claw that the familiar uniform clank of imperial steel came into earshot. Soon after an Imperial patrol, came into sight. What do these whore sons want. Joramund’s knuckles turned white as he gripped his reigns slowing the horse to a cautious amble.
“You there hold and state your business” A heavily armoured legionnaire walked briskly toward him, seconded by an auxiliary who wore a leather lorica and had a scutum and gladius in hand.
“I’m bound for Bruma”.
“Is that so... you’ve the look of a brigand about you”. And you’ve the look of a twat. “And what’s in that sack eh?”
“That would be your brigand not I. I’m the one who hunts the brigands”.
“Sspft” The legionnaire spat at the ground. “You’re a sell sword then”.
“Aye I am” And what are you some lickspittle that crawled up the arse of his commander to get to wear some fancy Armor?
“You hear that lads we got ourselves a sell sword!” The Imperial patrol began to jeer and hoot. “Best you be on your way sell sword” the legionnaire barked.
Joramund nodded and spurred the horse into a trot. Cunts.
The remainder of the ride was uneventful save for a few farmers and a travelling merchant selling 'rare trinkets'. The final descent down past Dragon Claw Rock was welcoming after the hard days riding. The city scape began to form in the distant twilight of the evening, with lights slowly blinking on like distant stars in the night sky.
By the time he had reached the eastern stables the sun had sunk beyond the Horizon and a light permafrost had begun to form on his cloak.
“You boy. Where’s the Stable Master?”
“A-at the Jerall View m’lord”.
“Hurmph”. Joramund grunted. “When isn’t he. Here’s some coin. See that my horse is fed, watered and warm”.
“Ye-yes m’lord. Ri-right away”.
“Do I look like a lord to you boy”. Joramund tossed a few gold dragons to the stableboy,
“ye-yes m’lord I, I mean n-no sir” the boy stuttered. Slack jawed little fool.
“Just see that she’s looked after. I’ll be back on the morrow”.
“As you s-say sir”. Joramund unfastened the hempen sack now sporting a bloody crust of frost at its base.
“Wh-what’s in there” the boy asked.
“Beat it boy before I clip ye ears!” The boy quickly scurried and set to his task. The night air had grown deathly cold. Joramund strode from the stables toward the eastern gate, the bloodied sack swinging on his trophy belt and his heavy fur billowing behind him.
The Eastern gate was barred and a pair of weary looking guards stood watch, talking amongst themselves.
“Ho there stranger what business do ye have at this hour?” A lanky guard asked Joramund as he approached.
“I wish to enter the city. I’ve a bounty to collect from your Count”.
“Eh and just what bounty is that? Ye know we have more an one of em, is it for that troll who were harassing em poor farm folk? I hear it made off with some of their young’un’s”.
“Bah Yoric, you’ve been listening to too much town gossip it was goats not children, t’were stolen”, the burly guard chided in. Joramund shuffled impatiently on his feet and unfastened the sack from his belt.
“This look like a fucking troll’s head”, he said grabbing the bandits severed head out of the sack by the hair.
“By the eight ye might o’ said it were the bandit”. The guards looked ill at the sight of macabre state of the head. I might have had you pricks not been fucking nattering. “Count will have retired for the night ye won’t get into the castle at this hour”.
“Then I’ll seek an audience with him tomorrow. Now will you let me in, I’ve a thirst for some mead and a hot meal”.
“Aye. Ye may pass. Inns up the hill on the right”. Bout fucking time. Joramund fastened the sack back on his belt while the guard fumbled about getting the gate to open.
The city opened up before him, dimly lit by street lanterns. His boots tapped across the hard-stone ground as he made his way toward the Jerall View. The great temple of Talos that had once stood proud had been repurposed into a town hall of sorts. Another victim of the concordat.
- Eerie sway of lifeless figures. Taught rope snapping. Ravens cawing. Cold little hands clasped tight. A man’s solemn scream. His solemn scream. –
“Fucking elves” Joramund growled through gritted teeth as he tried to supress the painful memory. Drunken laughter and the sound a lute playing snapped him out of his melancholy.
The tavern was busy and revellers were spilling out onto the street. A buxom woman squealed as a young man lustily chased after her. Joramund opened the door to the inn and stepped inside, the air was warm and inviting, and the sweet smell of mead and baking bread hung heavy. “What can I do for ye love?” An old inn keep called from across the room as he lumbered toward the bar.
“I’ll have some mead and a room. Oh, and some chicken ye got chicken”?
“Aye I’ll get you some food and drink. But”. The woman wrinkled her crooked nose. “Ye ain’t setting a hair in one of our beds smelling like that. Why it’s as if you’ve just come back from a dozen hunts! When was the last time ye bathed? And what on Nirn have ye got in that sack? It looks simply ghastly”!
“Oh, for fuck’s sake”, Joramund muttered under his breath. “Aye well a bath too then, the road has been hard it’d be good to relax awhile. But not before some mead, now fill me a damned tankard already”, he said irritated whilst pulling out a stool. The inn keep looked Joramund up and down with beady tired eyes.
“Right then, that’ll be thirty-five septims. That’s for the room food and bath, I’ll have one of the girls draw it for you when you’re ready. No groping or harassing them either we ain’t that kind of establishment. If ye want that best be on your way to the Tap and Tack. And that sack. By the divines what’s in it? Game? Ye can hang it outside the cold will keep it good”.
“The sack stays with me” Joramund said firmly.
The woman sighed and relented. “Very well. But if you make a mess of the room, I’ll be charging ye extra”. She said as she filled a tankard of mead from a cask.
“Fine by me” No sodding way am I hanging it outside, some shit will steal it. Worked too fucking hard for that bounty to lose it over a damned room. He reached into his coin pouch and placed the gold on the bar top.
“Here’s some mead” the woman placed the tankard on the polished oak top of the bar. “Chickens in the oven be done shortly”. She scooped up the gold and held a coin to the light straining her eye at it. “Can’t be too careful these days” she said turning the coin “All sorts of queer folks been coming through here of late. Most vagrants and the like know well enough to go to the Tap Tack”. You mean like me. “But we’ve had soldiers, travellers’, elves, even got this one woman staying now. Pretty thing she is, but don’t let that fool ya, there’s something not right bout that one, came in the dead of the night just as brazenly as if she owned the pla” –.
“You say something bout elves?” Joramund grabbed the tankard and took a deep gulp, the golden liquid trickled down his greying and tangled beard.
“Aye I did them Thalmor ones. They’re always coming and going. Though one of em’s always here in the city. Sitting cosy in the Count’s court no less”. She stepped closer dropping her voice to a cautious whisper. “They’re always on the lookout for secret Talos worshippers to stamp out.” And they do a good job of it too. Joramund took another gulp out of the tankard.
“There any in the city now”? The woman was polishing a fresh tankard with the dish rag that hung from her apron.
“A few” she said, “they’re over in the castle being hosted by the Count”. Shit. Joramund downed the last of the mead and put the empty tankard back on the counter.
“Ye can send the food when it’s done. Think I’ll have that bath now”. Thalmor in the city did not bode well with him. He stood up, wiping the mead from his beard and made his way to his room.
This is the first in a multi part story. This is largely based off of the rework I am doing on a old character of mine called The Stormrider. There were several influences I took inspiration from. Including characters from Mass Effect, The Witcher and ASOIAF. I'd like to thank Lee & Kendrix for being a constant sources of support and great sounding boards throughout the write up of this part. And also a thank you to Kyojiro. who helped by explaining how to structure dialogue between characters. Very much appreciated. Part 2 can be found here, and please let me know what you think!
Thanks - Furrion