The Bounty Chronicles: Ch. 7


Ahh, the Reach. If there weren’t any Forsworn roaming around like a pack of wild animals it would be almost beautiful, I thought. The rocking of the carriage jostled myself and the driver where we sat, nearly throwing us to the ground. The sun beat down of the surface giving the light to see and the subtle heat to go with it. From its position in the sky I guessed that it was a little past its highest peak.

“So,” the driver asked, “any particular thing you wish to see when you get to Markarth?”

“Someone,” I replied. Knowing the Reach as well as I do, one can never take their eyes off the environment. Wild men can ambush the wary traveler from anywhere.

“I see. Is this someone a woman that tickles our fancy?” His voice hinted at something and I knew what it was.

“Yes. She pertains to my contract of finding her.”

“Oh.” Now he sounded disappointed. Why do people care who I seem to sleep with? It gets tiring very quickly.

“This one thinks you’d better watch the trail instead. Forsworn and all,” I implied with a hiss.

At the mention of the Reachmen the driver visibly flinched. “R-right. Sorry.”

“Just keep the horse and your eyes moving.”

“You’re right. Sorry.” His voice was very calm despite the threat of looming danger. The horse whinnied her own opinion, seemingly agreeing with its driver.

“Yes I am,” I frowned, grabbing my bow and standing in the carriage. “LAAS… YAH NIR!”

My silver eyes became outlined in red, giving them the impression of being possessed. The life force of all near and far living creatures became revealed, even hidden behind rocks and scattered, dead trees.

There were not any Forsworn nearby.

“We’re fine. You can stop shaking.”

“T-thank you, Dragonborn,” he said. Despite his calm demeanor, sweat beaded down his cheeks giving a clear indication how terrified he really was. A dirty sleeve swept them away with a relieved sigh. “Just, they could be ahead of us yeah?”

“They could indeed,” I nodded. “Just keep the mare going.” An arrow became nocked as the driver ordered his horse to move faster. “This one has you covered.”

And the journey continued ever onward. Now on edge the driver’s eyes darted from left to right in an effort to try and see any possible threats that could bring harm onto his beloved horse; the cart continued to jar against the rocks and holes along the ground.

Again I shouted Aura Whisper, bringing the red glow back into my vision. We had past Karthspire mere moments ago and it was devoid of Forsworn. The Blades, Delphine, Esbern and several recruits of their own, kept the area clear of any wild men that would try to return.

The Blades and I do not get along, believing my duty was to kill Paarthurnax. And be their bitch. Ever since Delphine and I nearly killed each other over my decision, both of them have ceased helping me and recruited members on their own time.

Just ahead of us, three red auras blazed into life. Their arms were poised to the sides with something in their grip. Axes, swords, bows and arrows were the possibilities that each had. And from what I could tell was, based on the shape of the life force, one was a woman and the others were men.

“Tread carefully,” I warned. “Three are waiting in ambush! Slow down!” At the command, the driver brought his horse to a very steady walk. “Good. You can stop here until I finish them off. They won’t harm you when they’ve something dangerous to hunt.”

“As you say,” the driver, whose name was Sigaar, replied between his breathing. The mare brayed slightly at the sudden change, forcing the beast to come to a halt. “Easy girl. It’s alright… I hope.”

Jumping from the cart and heading straight ahead, I would spring the trap so Sigaar would be fine. At first moving at a slow pace was helping keep my steps quiet I quickly went into an all-out sprint. With an arrow at the ready, this one was too.

First there was silence, only my feet hitting the rocky ground and my rattling armor. Then there was a war cry before three arrows cut the air.

I slid to a stop and let loose a missile of my own; their arrows sunk into the dirt with a low thunk. The Forsworn hid behind his rock before he could get killed. His fellow brother and sister unleashed more projectiles before taking the axes at their sides and charging with another cry.

From a distance they could be mistaken for a wild animal due to their armor and hair being covered in skulls, twigs, and hawk feathers. But up close they were still nothing more than human.


My body became overcome with a white-blue mist and corporeal in appearance, allowing the arrows fly through my chest. I smirked as they became wide eyed in awe and worry. Running to meet them, the Shout wore off allowing me to swing an arm of my bow and injure the woman’s side. She cried in pain as her friend retaliated in her stead, bringing his axe down with a grunt.

If it hadn’t have been for the pauldron covering me, I would have lost an arm. The sharpened stone of the blade hit the strong metal with enough force to cause me to stumble before I could strike his friend again. She had recovered almost instantly and tried her own swing at me while the other Breton followed in suit.

Holding the black bow normally I was able to hold off their weapon grind. All three of us gritted our teeth, using everything we had to overpower the other. But on my end it was not proving too well. The combined strength of the two was great, meaning they had to have been trained extremely well.

In the distance my squinting eyes could make out the last Forsworn nocking another arrow. Xhuth, I thought. This isn’t where I end! Not to come so far to be killed by something no better than a wild animal! I couldn’t Shout, my throat still recovering from Ethereal Form.

Before the Breton could let loose his arrow, he dropped the bow entirely. A look of silent puzzlement before pain took over as a finger brushed over the deadly head protruding from his neck. His eyes went wide with shock, blood streaming out of the man’s mouth only to fall forward dead.

“Not one of them,” I sighed, not wanting that man. Taking advantage of the noise their brethren’s body made, I swung my bow outward managing to throw both my attackers off balance. They let out a yelp of surprise and tried to resume their offensive manner.

Heavy boots stormed against the ground as a member of The Blades charged towards the woman Forsworn, brandishing his katana. Neither of them could react quickly enough to our attacks. His katana disappeared into the still fumbling Breton’s chest, piercing though to her back. Her companion suffered a broken neck as my bow slammed full force into it.

The Nord, by the look of how large his armor was, slashed the weapon in the air making any blood on it to fling in the same direction. The look of an Akaviri Samurai helped the Blades stand out from other organizations in Skyrim. Looking at me for only a few seconds I could tell he recognized me.

“Coward of a Dragonborn. You don’t deserve the title,” he said with gritted teeth.

“I’m sorry, did my not killing a friend not sit well with Delphine and Esbern? Or maybe it was my nearly killing her when she suggested it?” I sneered at him, heading back for Sigaar. "Or maybe it was my stealing the Dragonbane? So many choices Hjorten."

“You disgusting piece of-"

“If you think you can kill me, come give it a try,” I interrupted without stopping to turn around. “If you still wish, this one will make sure Delphine gets the body back.” Without another word, the Nord went a different route to Sky Haven Temple more than likely angry with my last statement.

“Sigaar,” I said approaching the carriage,” it’s finished. Not too shaken are you?”

“I-no, Dragonborn,” he replied already trying to calm his nerves. Slowly the Nord’s white knuckle grip on the reigns returned to a more relaxed one. His slightly sweaty face mimicked his hands soon after. “I’m just glad you were the one to be my passenger.”

I smirked lightly before hoping back into the back of the carriage. “Don’t mention it, Sigaar. And you can just call me Xian.”

“Alright… Xian. Ready to keep going?”

“I am.”

With a whip of the leather reigns we were off for Markarth once again. The traversing from that point on was a relatively quiet one. The sun continued to shine its light, giving a clean warmth to all of our backs.

An hour had past when we finally arrived at the city’s stables. I thanked Sigaar one more time for the ride before giving me another small pouch of gold for the trouble he had to endure. His mare got a reward as well in the form of a carrot in one of my back bandoliers. The beast neighed in a form of thanks, gaining him a soft rub against the snout. 

The outside of Markarth was definitely something to look at, a lot cleaner than the inside of its gates. Dwemer-made construction could be seen peeking through the stone that made up the mountainside that made up the city. The bright gold metal against the gray stone was something that made this area stand out amongst the rest of the hold.

Heading into the gates of Markarth, the noise of the people, beggars and stall owners just vying to see if any outsiders from the place would buy something or give some coin away. Among the begging men and women was Degaine. The bushy bearded man wasn’t hard to distinguish from the rest of the dirt covered humans.

“Alms,” He spoke softly to a mother who kept her child close to her. When the Redguard didn’t hand any out he became a bit more forceful. “I said ‘alms’ you backbiter! Give we crippled workers a helping hand!”

“Just leave myself and my son alone,” she retorted, now trying to scurry away to a nearby guard. The situation was then quickly handled with the beggars heading in opposite directions.

I sighed and shook my head at the scene. Hist damn you Degaine. Travelers won’t stopped being harassed for gold while you are around…

The door of the Silver-Blood Inn creaked as it was opened almost in desperation, as if crying out to be oiled. The patrons all gazed my way before returning to their drinks and food. The barkeep, Kleppr, held a mug in his hand and a cloth in the other, getting it cleaned from whatever drink occupied it earlier that day. His wife, Frabbi, went from one customer to another, asking if they needed a refresher, a refill or more to eat.

Taking an empty stool at the counter I laid down a few coin. “Kleppr, something strong.”

The aging Nord looked at the gold and before long reached behind his bar and pulled out a small glass and a tall bottle of liquor. “Usual rate Xian?”

“That and I’m here on other business.”

“Oh,” he mused as he poured the opaque liquid into the shot glass. “And the other business is something I can help you with?”

“Only if you are able.” Clasping the small glass it quickly met my lips and the drink disappeared. I closed my eyes and sighed; been a long time since I had had something strong. “This one was hired to find someone who was last seen in the city. Breton, a woman.”

“A Breton you say. Hmm…” The old man put a finger to his chin trying to remember. Pushing my shot glass forward he responded with another pour. “Well someone like that did come here but quickly left after she overheard someone talk about Calcelmo and his Dwemer findings.”

“Huh. Woman I’m looking for takes an interest in his fascinations too.” I downed the next shot. My tolerance for alcohol was plenty high but getting drunk is something I don’t like becoming. “I have all I need to find her. Thanks again, Kleppr.”

A sudden crash grabbed our attention. Looking to where it came from Frabbi was already grabbing a broom and a dust pan to clean up the shattered plate.

“Sorry, miss Frabbi,” the Orc man said rubbing the back of his head.

The Nord woman was known for her screwed attitude towards her husband. She did, however, use a far more pleasant for the patrons she serves with her children. “It’s alright, dear. I know you didn’t mean to. And don’t worry neither, that next steak is on us. Just mind where you step next time!”

Instead of arguing with his wife, which he always did every day, he concurred. I had already left the bar and nearly out the door when the Nord looked back to his counter. The amount of coin that lay in his sight was more than really needed for the two shots I had ordered.

Once more outside the boisterous crowds were no longer present. The guards went on by with their rounds; I’m sure the Stormcloak soldiers were so proud of how many “outsiders” were in their city. An unfortunate turn of events during a peace meeting on High Hrothgar so many moons ago. Markarth for Riften and Falkreath because the Ulfric and Galmar were unset due to Elenwen being at the very same gathering. Can’t say even Tullis didn’t agree with Ulfric on having her around.

Heading away from the market stalls and any stragglers that remained in the area, the Understone Keep had a Breton that I desperately needed to speak with. Whatever Isran has planned for her when I bring Sorine back had to be worth whatever trouble I should run into.

Bypassing my way for the Keep several guards went by, but not before purposefully running into me. My instant reaction was to growl and hiss at her action. She and her partner turned to face me, the helmets covering their faces.

“Problem, lizard?” she asked with sarcasm heavy in her voice.

“Yeah,” I replied with a scowl. “You.”

“You instigating a fight with the guard?” She patted the axe at her side and her companion reached behind him to grip the greatsword on his back. “I can assure you that if you are, you’ll lose. Even you can't fight the whole city.”

“Don’t forget I know what Thonar Silver-Blood is really up to in this city. I know you are all bought.” I smirked in, what I thought was, triumph. It quickly morphed into a wicked snarl as the Nord woman crept towards me.

“If so, then we know you can be disposed of at the snap of his fingers.”

As they walked away I was pissed beyond belief, mainly because she was right. At the snap of the little bastard’s fingers I could be killed at any time. Be it in public through guard brutality or some sort of assassin. I could only hiss to myself as the Keep got closer and closer.

Gods how I hate the Stormcloaks. Everything I did was for the betterment of Skyrim. That did not matter to them. The idiots couldn’t get past the idea that not only I was the Dragonborn of Nordic legend, but that I was an Argonian. The Nord warriors refused to see past the black scales that adorned my skin. Fucking pricks!

The guard at the great doors stopped me in my tracks and train of thought. “Hold here, Argonian.” My silver eyes fell onto him, the slit pupils glaring a hold straight through him that caused him to flinch.

“Xian-Krie. Dragonborn in case you haven’t heard, Nord,” I growled in a low voice. “Before you even ask, I’m not here to see your damn Jarl.”

“I… I’m sorry to hear that Xian, but I can’t just let you insult him without giving a warning.”

While he went on with said warning, I was able to get a good look at the lad. He was young, far younger than the men and women that were doing their patrols. The young man was a pure guard compared to his bought brethren.

I let out a sigh, some of my anger escaping my body. “This one is going to stop you right there, goraan jul.” The man cocked his head while I shook mine, forgetting not many people know the language of the Dovah. “You are still uncorrupted, unlike your comrades in arms.”

“What are you-“

“Just let me speak,” I ordered before continuing. “The Silver-Bloods are NEVER to be trusted. Neither are your fellow brethren guards. They have each under their thumb with the gold they give out. Remember that and it may help you find out who’s really on your side. Now if you’ll excuse me, Calcelmo has someone I need to speak with.”

“O-of course sir,” the young Nord replied. “Head right in.” His voice was unusually calm after what I spouted on him. Did he already know or was he just thinking on it?

The entrance from the keep was quite large. On the inside enormous slabs of stone ate at one’s peripheral vision until the turned off on their respected sides to create hallways that lead to either Calcelmo’s Dwemer museum at the right and his ‘office’ to the left. Ahead of all that, however, was the way to Thongvor himself.

Taking a left towards the large cavern-like opening the large area that was the Altmer’s office. A supply of anything an alchemist and enchanter could need laid out in the open. Two enormous braziers were alight with fire, gracing the surface of the stone with a warm orange glow. And by a simple table was a woman in leather gear and Calcelmo himself.

“These schematics are simply amazing Calcelmo!”

“I whole heartedly agree Sorine. But might I ask why these plans are so important to you that I needed to dig them out of my collection? It took all day with that.”

“What can I say, I’m a tinkerer,” she mused.

My heavy footsteps caught both their attention, giving me their gaze.

“Are you Sorine?” I asked outright.

Her eyes narrowed at the question. “Yes. Why do you-“ The Breton shook her head and looked to the mage. “Excuse me Calcelmo.” Without waiting for a response from the seemingly elderly High Elf, Sorine walked towards me. “Alright, why do you want to know if I am Sorine?”

“Sorine Jurard.” Her expression was one coin couldn’t buy. “Description from Isran is almost what he said.”

“Isran? The woman let out a groan and rubbed her forehead. “Look it’s not like I don’t care what he has to say, but the last time he and I spoke he ended up saying some very hurtful things to me.”

“Isran would like your help,” I said with a calm, stern look. “His Dawnguard are up against vampires.”

“’His Dawnguard’? Vampires? Oh so now he remembers that I proposed no less than three scenarios that involved vampires taking over.”

“What is unique about this scenario, Sorine, is that these vampires have an Elder Scroll.”

The Breton’s eyes became full of concern. “Oh. That changes somethings doesn’t it?”


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  • So the stormcloaks won the civil war in this story line? Fascinating. An excellent read as always Ben.
    • They didn't win the war, they only got Markarth due to the treaty meeting on High Hrothgar

  • I'm probably alone in this, but I kinda wish that fight between Xi and the guards went down.
    • 2 years too late, but you're not alone in that  

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