Location:- Road to Rorikstead
Date:- 2E 581 First Seed Turdas 12th.
By the time Volk had finished digging at the bottom of the well and pulled out a large plain lead sealed chest it was mid morning. The funeral pyre they had set alight was now blazing away with black greasy smoke billowing up in a column that rose high up into the clear blue sky. Volk and Johan heaved the chest over the well wall and set to chiseling off the lead seal. Johan stood and watched in silence after helping Volk haul it out of the well. With the last part of the seal removed Volk threw open the lid to the chest, the sun glinted off polished metal and gold within. Johan gasped in shock at seeing the wealth inside as Volk dug in and pulled out a chainmail coat and leggings.
"I keep these for reserve and the money is my savings." Volk said in way of an explanation "I bury them to keep them safe from bandits and thieves"
"Now I know where to look." Johan replied with a grin on his face.
Volk laughed and shook his head "I will move it when we get back."
"Found your axes Volk, and the gold from your payment from the general." Delte interrupted the two men.
Volk nodded and closed the lid to the chest once more, with the items he needed removed from its contents he shoved the chest once more over the well wall and let it sink back down into the mud at the bottom of the well.
"Sort out the horses while I get my armour on. Then we will be off." Volk said as he headed back to the house.
"We only have two horses left Volk." Delte shouted after him as she ran to catch up.
"I know that, and that is why you and Johan ride together until we reach Whiterun stables." He said and then shut the door to the house.
Delte turned around and scowled at Johan who instantly looked at the ground still unsure of the dunmer female.
"Bloody n'wah." Delte spat at Johan "Why do I have to ride with him?"
"Now now Delte," Paws said as he came round leading the two horses "you are lighter of frame than myself and Volk. Less of a strain on the horse, and Volk and I can take turns to ride my mount."
Delte snatched her horse's reigns out of Left-Paw_Alight's hand and started to checks the harness.
"Fine but he puts his hands someplace I don't like they are coming off at his elbows." Delte continued her rant.
Left-Paw-Alight chuckled as he checked the harness on his own horse. "Don't worry Johan, Delte can be rather charming once you get to know her." He said hiding behind his own horse as he tried not to laugh.
"Shut it Paws." Came the reply from Delte
This proved to much for Left-Paw-Alight who couldn't hold the laugh in any longer, Delte realising she was being wound up tried not to laugh which only resulted in a huge smirk spreading across her face.
"Damned lizard." Delte said as she tried not to laugh.
"That's me." Paws replied as he regained his composure.
Inside the house Volk chuckled at the loud conversation going on outside between Delte and Left-Paw-Alight as he put on the chainmail armour. Over the coat of chain he wore a tabard that had a yellow wooden shield being spliced in twain by an axe of white set on a dark blue background. On top of this he had a set of thick leather straps that held his weapons in place, his twin axes now back on his hips and in easy reach, a large two handed sword sheathed on his back. As Volk turned to leave his home he stopped at a small shrine dedicated to Shor and knelt before it with his two handed sword drawn. Hands resting on the pommel he bowed his head and prayed to the dead god of war of the nord people.
"Shor grant me the strength of Ysgramor and his five hundred, so that I may find my wife Gresla and child safe."
With his prayers said he stood up and sheathed his sword once more and left the house to join his companions for the ride to Whiterun.
Location:- Whiterun Stables
Date:- Date:- 2E 581 First Seed Turdas 12th.
Delte and her companions took a steady ride from Volk's farm so as to not cripple their remaining two horses. Volk and Paws would take turns in the saddle during the course of their journey. Starting to feel more at ease Johan began to tell them what had been happening in Skyrim since their departure to Cyrodiil. He also went into more details of the night his village and farm was raided by the cultists.
It was dusk as they arrived at the stables of Whiterun. The farmers had already vacated their fields after a long days toil, the air was filled with a scent of freshly turned soil and manure. In the distance a windmill turned its creaky sails as a cool wind blew down into the grass plains. The sound of barking could be heard coming from the city as packs of stray dogs roamed the streets. Delte shivered and pulled her cloak round tighter to try and keep the chill out, from living for the past couple of years in Cyrodiil and earlier in Elsweyr for most of her childhood. Volk stood at the door to the stable house and gave it a sharp knock with his mailed fist. Muffled voices could be heard inside along with the scraping sound of a chair being pulled along the wooden floor. Slowly the door was pulled open and a gruff voice said “We are shut go away or ye' taste my club.” Then it slammed shut again with a bang.
"I am a son of Skyrim in need of two horses with good gold to pay for them both." Volk shouted at the now shut door.
The door opened again and was quickly filled by a rotund man with rosy cheeks and a grin, wearing a simple outfit of a green woollen tunic and leather breaches which a rope belt attempted to keep them held up and maintain the mans dignity.
"Two horses and gold you say?" The man said to Volk with a cheerful grin.
Volk nodded and patted a pouch of gold on his belt with a smile.
"Name is Olson, and I am the stable master." He said as a way of a greeting to Volk and shook his hand.
"Good to meet you," Volk said "I am Volk Shatter-Shield."
Olson grinned even more recognising the name of the local Thane's son, and looked towards where the rest of the group stood. "Who are the horses for my lord?"
"Myself and Johan there." Volk replied pointing his finger at Johan.
"Follow me I may have what you need." Olson said as he walked to the stable block.
"Delte while I get the horse and harnesses I want you to go to the Jarl." Volk said "Tell him all that has transpired, he needs to know and we may even get some help."
Volk followed the stable master into his house to finalise the sale.
"Why me?" Delte protested as she mounted her horse."He doesn't even know me, why would he take my word?"
"He doesn't like me that is why." Paws said in answer to her protests "Last time I met him I insulted his court mage and the jarl had me physically thrown out."
"What did you do to his mage?" She asked with a smile knowing Paws would not often put a foot wrong in the matters of politics.
"Another time Delte," Paws waved her off "best get going. Knowing Volk he will want to make tracks till midnight which doesn't leave us much time."
Delte set her horse off at a trot towards the large gates to Whiterun, Johan stared at Left-Paw-Alight with his mouth open, Paws looked back at him and shrugged.
"The court mage is an idiot, I was just pointing out the fact to the Jarl." Paws scratched his chin as he thought back to the event "He was implying that Volk and I were skooma smugglers and that only select individuals could work magic, also beast races don't have the ability to work real magic. When in fact anyone with the aptitude to study and learn can work magic. Even you Johan if you applied yourself."
Delte approached the large wooden gates to the city, torches burned brightly in their wall brackets on either side. On the ground large iron braziers gave off their heat from raging fires that burned within them to drive off the chill night air. Two guards stood either side of the gate while a third stood in the middle of the road his right hand resting easily on the hilt of his long sword in his other hand he held a shield with the same emblem as the two guards at the gate. The symbol was that of a strong looking horse painted in black lines on a yellow background.
"Halt traveller." The guard in the road addressed Delte "State your name and purpose."
Delte threw back the hood of her cloak and looked at the man in the eyes. "I come to appraise your jarl on events that are going on in his realm. My name is Delte and the news I have is urgent. Now let me pass."
The guards laughed at her reply, the one who stood in front of her apoke again. "I am sergeant Brant of the guard, and I can not let you in to see the jarl because today's court is closed to petitions. If you could come....."The sergeant was cut short in his reply.
"Listen and listen well n'wah. The jarl has Molag Bal cultists roaming his land. They are killing his subjects and taking away slaves for daedra rituals. You will either let me in now or I will go through you." Delte raised her voice with one hand on her dagger.
The guard sergeant looked back into her violet eyes unsure if she was telling the truth or trying to scare him and his men, those cold alien eyes told him nothing of what was going on in the dunmer's mind which sent a shiver down his spine.
"Fine the horse stays here though, and I will escort you to him." the sergeant said as his underlings opened a small door in the middle of one of the gates.
Delte dismounted her horse and tied it to the fence rail and then followed the sergeant into the city.
The gate slammed shut behind them and sergeant Brant walked by Delte's side. The first thing Delte noticed was the stench of the city, a open sewer ran along the wall down the hill towards the main river. Stray dogs ran in packs down deserted roads and alleyways looking for scraps of food that had been left from the days market, or from people throwing out their rubbish. In the darkness rats could be heard scurrying about. Delte put her hand over her mouth and nose to try and disperse the smell, while her escort seemed to be unaffected by the smell.
They passed an inn called the Bannered Mare singing could be heard coming from inside, along with the smell of roasted hog which now mingled with the stench of the city. Regardless Delte's stomach growled at the smell reminding her of the lack of a real meal over the past few days. Brant explained the districts to her as they went up a stone flight stairs into the Wind District. It was then they passed by the gildergreen tree in full bloom, Delte dropped her hand and gasped at the sight. Brant puffed his chest out as some home pride swelled in him.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Brant said as they passed it by. Delte nodded as they carried on towards the castle of Dragonsreach in the Cloud District where the Jarl held court.
At the doors to Dragonsreach sergeant Brant walked up to a man in the same colours as his own uniform but this one had a large two handed axe and better quality armour and spoke to him about Delte's request. She soon learned that the other man Brant was speaking to was his captain who then dismissed Brant back to his post at the gate.
"Follow me please miss." The captain said as he opened the doors to the large hall of the jarl.
The first thing that came into view as Delte crossed the threshold was huge wooden pillars carved with nordic runes and sagas. They in turn supported a high vaulted ceiling with huge wooden beams that spanned across the whole building. Stone steps lead up to another level where voices and music could be heard, and a strong smell of more cooking wafted down to her. As she and the captain ascended the steps her stomach growled again, she gave a wince and glanced over at the captain who smiled.
At the top of the stairs the interior of the castle opened out into a huge courtroom. The centre of the room was taken up by a fire pit, servants on either side turned roasting spits with hogs impaled on each one. A row of tables were placed length ways down the pit with people sat facing the fire pit. At the far end opposite Delte was another table where a man who wore a circlet of gold on his head sat with a woman on his right eating their evening meal. A large burly man dressed in platmail and furs stood behind the seated man at the head table. All eyes in the room looked at the her and the captain and followed her as she walked between the fire pit and tables. Delte looked up at various hunting trophies as she made the long walk towards the head table, animals from all over Skyrim and even beyond adorned the walls. The people sat at the tables noticed that as she walked past the fire pit the flames seemed to move towards her as if sensing her dunmer heritage and affinity to fire. She looked at the nobles all sat at the tables and felt out of place in her dusty and scratched armour, she took a deep breath and increased her pace.
The man who stood behind the jarl held up his hand and with a thick nord accent spoke "That is far enough dunmer."
Delte stopped and looked at the man sat before her, his hair was red in colour shot through with grey. It was adorned with coloured wooden beads. Steel grey eyes looked her over as a bearded chin and mouth chewed a bite of roast hog. In his right hand was a bone that had been recently picked clean, draped over his shoulders was the skin of a sabre cat, its front paws over each shoulder had clasps attached to them and into his armour breastplate.
"Jarl Hulderic of Whiterun." Delte addressed the man sat in front of her "I have news of cultists roaming your lands and raiding villages and farms for slaves and sacrifices. My companions and I are on their trail, but require assistance."
A hushed murmur went around the tables with gasps of shock, the jarl nodded as he listened to the request.
"Pray tell me your name and those of your companions." jarl Hulderic said.
"My name is Delte and I travel with Volk Shatter-Shield and an argonian shaman called Left-Paw-Alight." She replied, a man to her right snorted in a laugh which drew her attention. He was dressed in fine red velvet robes with silver and gold embroidery. His hook nose the most prominent feature on his thin lean face.
"Sire you would take orders such as this from a vagabond dunmer who travels in the company of known criminals?" The man said in a aloof tone.
"That was never proven you cur, and that is my son you are accusing." A large old nord pointed a meaty finger at the hooked nose man in robes.
"QUIET! All of you." jarl Hulderic shouted "Sorry Delte please explain yourself."
"We arrived at Volk's farm last night. What we found was a small group of bandits had taken residence. They attacked us on sight, so we made our escape." Delte explained the details of the previous night "Next morning we formulated a plan and attacked to take back the farm. We killed seven of the bandits and took one prisoner which we questioned."
The whole room had now gone silent, even the servants turning the roast hog had stopped to listen to the events.
"The bandit told us they found the farm deserted and a boy of about eleven had been killed and left to rot in the courtyard. He also told us of a rune painted in blood on the door which they had washed off." Delte continued her report and then drew the rune on the table cloth with the blackened piece of wood from the fire for the jarl to see. The man in the red robes got up and walked around to look over the jarl's shoulder at the rune.
"Never seen it before, she is obviously lying trying to gather soldiers away from the city for an attack by her comrades who are probably the bandits she mentioned." Hook nose remarked "She has no second name, that means she is an outlaw of her own people or an ashlander. Either way they are classed as criminals."
Delte's hand curled around the hilt of her dagger, but the large armoured nord caught her eyes and shook his head as a warning.
"Insult me or my friends again and you will die." Delte addressed Hooks Nose.
"What is this rune?" jarl Hulderic asked Delte "You obviously have more knowledge of it than Valkor here." the jarl pointed at Hook Nose, Delte smiled as the mage shifted uneasily at the statement.
"Its an old chimer rune for Molag Bal. A cult in the 1st Era used it as their symbol." Delte continued her explanation "We thought the cult to be dead, but if they are active now in Skyrim we need to move before they can gain more support and power."
"Why would they need slaves and sacrifices of such magnitude?" Volk's father asked.
"So they can open gates to Coldharbour in Oblivion." She turned to look at him, in his eyes she could see a resemblance to Volk.
"How many soldiers do you require?" Jarl Hulderic asked.
"Twenty if you can spare them." Delte said in reply without hesitation.
"Not a chance." the captain of the guards said he had been following the conversation from the back of the room "Since the troubles in Cyrodiil we are short handed as it is."
"Don't trouble yourself captain Karlof. My son will go with them and report back to the jarl." Volk's father spoke again and turned to a young man he gave some whispered orders to a young man on his left. The young man stood up and bowed to the jarl then walked out of the hall.
"Thank you thane Shatter-Shield," captain Karlof said to Volk's father "with your sons report we can better determine the course of action."
"Is that it?" Delte said in an exasperated tone "One boy?" I come here to inform you that your lands and people are in danger and you give me a boy as help."
"He maybe a boy but I know my son." Thane Shatter-Shield said "As you may know Volk they were both trained by me and my second. Come let me walk you back to the city gates."
The thane stood up and took Delte's arm as her own father would of and walked her to the large doors in silence. Delte was fuming inside she had been insulted and laughed at by these humans who had no knowledge of the danger they were in. The thane seemed to sense this and kept a tight grip on her hand was they walked.
Once outside her temper cooled in the night air and the old thane walked at a slow pace back down the steps towards the Wind District humming a tune. He stopped and sat down on a bench under the gildergreen tree.
"Lovely night," the old thane said as he breathed in deeply "I also know of the cultists you speak of. What I didn't know was the attack on Volk's farm, and that saddens this old heart more than you know."
Delte sat down by his side and let out a huge sigh.
"Thane Ulbert Shatter-Shield." He said with a smile as he gave his full title and name "Now let me tell you what the three of you have walked right into. There are people in court here that are working against the jarl. Its my job to protect him and find these vipers."
"Well that is just great." Delte said and looked up at the branches of the tree "Skyrim is being over run by daedra cultists and the people in charge are making power plays for crowns."
Ulfbert chuckled and shook his head "The vipers are the agents of the cultists, and some of them were sat in that hall we just left. Jarl Hulderic commissioned me to root them out."
"If you know who they are why not remove them now?" Delte enquired as she looked around the square.
"No hard evidence and you just can't go around accusing nobles without hard facts." Ulfbert replied "You and Volk need to find Gresla and her child before it is to late. Let me worry about the vipers here."
Delte stood up and bowed slightly to Ulfbert, this show of respect took the old thane by surprise. He stood up and placed both hands on her shoulders.
"Tell Volk I love him." Ulfbert said to her and then turned to head back into Dragonsreach.
By the time Delte had returned to Volk and Paws the new horses had been bridled and ready for the journey. Volk and his younger brother had been reunited which seemed to of lifted his previous black mood as he beamed a huge smile as he talked and joked with his sibling. Left-Paw-Alight seemed to take joy from seeing the boy again, and to of grown into a young man during their time away. Johan stood to one side shuffling dirt with his boots not knowing where to look, now and again Volk's brother would scowl at Johan as Volk recounted their meeting with the bandits at his farm.
"Delte this is my younger brother Brom." Volk said with a grin as he introduced him to the dunmer female "Brom this is Delte the lady dunmer I wrote to you about."
Brom grinned and held out his hand as a way of greeting Delte.
"Nice, so are we going to move or stay here chatting?" Delte said as she looked Brom up and down and then mounted her horse.
Delte trotted away on her horse, Brom looked at Volk and shrugged "What did I do?" He said.
"Nothing mate she just doesn't know you that is all. Don't worry you will know if you upset her." Volk said as he mounted his new horse.
They made their way to the main road Volk rode alongside Delte and listened to her account of what had happened in Dragonsreach, and of her chat latter with his father Ulfbert. Left-Paw-Alight, Brom and Johan rode behind them, Paws and Brom chatted between themselves about the events in Cyrodiil and in Skyrim. They made camp around midnight just off the main road to Rorikstead. A campfire was quickly built to chase away the night chills. Johan looked around the camp as they ate supper, he noticed Delte was staring at him with her violet almond shaped eyes. The firelight seemed to make her eyes glow with a inner energy and this made him feel uneasy from the attention he was getting from her.
"Can you shoot a bow Johan?" Delte asked.
"I can kill a deer at eighty paces." Johan replied pleased that she had broken the silence.
"What about a man or a woman?" She asked.
"If my life depended on it I guess I could shoot someone." Johan replied as he looked over to Volk who just shrugged.
Delte stood up and walked over to her horse, she gently patted its flank to calm it down and pulled out a long package wrapped in soft leather. Delte walked over to where Johan was sitting and gave him the package.
"Its my bow I want you to have it." Delte explained to the puzzled Johan "If we are going up against these cultists we are going to need all the people we can get to help."
"So you are not afraid I will shoot any of you in the back with it and run?" Johan replied.
"A misplaced arrow by you could spell your own doom, a cultist will not care who you are they will kill you because you are not one of them." Delte explained with a smile "But a well placed arrow could help turn a battle or end a fight."
"I am not a warrior though." Johan wailed "I am a coward remember."
Delte nodded "That is why I am giving you my bow. Treat her well and she will look after you. The four of us are going to be in melee most of the time, you can stay back and shoot the enemy."
Johan unwrapped the bow stave and gasped in amazement at the quality and design. Gems sparkled along the handle and runes inlaid with gold had a magical glow to them as an unseen energy pulsed along the ebony limbs.
"I can't accept this."Johan said "Its worth more than anything I have ever owned or ever will own."
"It's priceless." Delte said as she sat down on her bedroll "I made it two years ago, but I feel it would serve me better in your hands. Take vengeance Johan for the family you have lost to these cultists. Blood for blood make your ancestors proud."
"Thank you Delte." Johan said as he wrapped the stave back in the leather covering. "I won't let you down."
"That is all I can hope for." Delte said to him "I will take first watch if that is alright. Oh and make sure not to build the fire to high."
"Why?" Brom asked.
"Why what? " Delte turned her gaze to the young nord.
"The fire, why not build it up? Its going to be a cold night otherwise." He said as he defiantly threw a new log into the flames.
"Because I don't want to fend off a rampant male troll looking for a mate." Delte said to Brom.
At this Paws started to choak on some bread he had just bitten off and Volk put his head in his hands and gave a muffled moan. Brom started to laugh along with Johan.
"Well I don't see what is so funny about being out in the wilds during troll season." Delte said with her arms crossed.
"Troll season?" Brom howled with laughter "Who told you that pile of shit?"
Delte gave a scathing look at Volk and Paws and stomped away from the fire to begin her watch. Paws regained his composure and shook his head.
"Bugger I had forgotten about that one." Volk explained "I had told her that because she kept stopping to pick herbs and plants for her alchemy. So I made it up to try and speed our journey up."
Volk stood up and dusted himself down of crumbs "I had best go and make amends with her."
He left the circle of firelight to look for the dunmer female.
"I don't understand her problem." Brom said "She doesn't have a sense of humour."
"Oh she does Brom," Paws answered "its very subtly and dry though. Remember she is not like you or Volk, she is a dunmer a dark elf. Very different people from those you know of in Skyrim."
"Always the teacher Paws." Brom said.
"It's not done you or Volk any harm though now has it?" Paws replied with a wink.
During the trip to Rorikstead the company made good time, even though they had to bypass some giant camps along the way. Delte gave instruction to Johan on how to shoot the bow better and the two brothers went out to hunt the next night for small game to save their provisions.
On the second day of travelling they rounded the foot of some hills and their view into the small town or Rorikstead was unobstructed. The scene that lay before them was of devastation and death. Fires blazed away out of control through the squat wooden buildings and thatched roof tops. Magical lighting arched between two figures in the town square as some of the men were trying to fight off the attackers.
"Kyne's breath." Brom swore at the sight he beheld.
Volk pulled out his two axes and dug his heels into his horses flanks. "For Shor and King Jorunn." He shouted as his horse entered full gallop.
Brom pulled his sword out and gave chase after his brother with Delte right behind him.
"I got to string my bow." Johan complained to Paws who was still with him.
"Learn to do it on horseback Johan. Come on do you want to live forever?" Left-Paw-Alight said as he sent his horse hurtling down towards the burning town of Rorikstead.
"Madness they are all raving mad." Johan said to himself as he unwrapped the bow and strung it.