Location:- Broken Tower Redoubt.
Date:- 2E 581 First Seed Sundas 15th
Delte and the others watched the ruined fort from behind the rocky outcrop on top of the cliffs opposite of the main entrance to the old fort. The remains of an old tower strewn about them, Volk had explained that it use to be a bridge that span the gulley with battlements for archers to hide behind in case of attack. It was one of the few roads between Markarth and Whiterun at one point and this was considered a safe point to cross, but sometime ago there was an earthquake that brought the bridge down and so the fort was abandoned and left to ruin. The ruins of the tower they now hid in is what is left of the stones that the local residents had not yet stolen for their own homes.
On the battlements opposite screams of pain issued forth from the survivors from the attack on Rorikstead, those that had returned had been quickly subdued and placed on racks out in the open. The cultist priests now started to strip the flesh off the cultists that had been part of the raiding party on the town of Rorikstead, the strips of which was placed into an ornate wooden box inlaid with golden daedric runes. The raiders were being kept alive through dark magic, as each one was stripped of their flesh the skeletons were freed to join the rest of the undead that guarded the fort. The sky above was shot through with red clouds giving the whole scene a horrifying vista which could of just been happening in Oblivion rather than Tamriel.
The cult priests wore long loose white robes that had been splashed by blood and offal from their victims. Their faces covered by bronze masks that represented their master Molag Bal. The skeletal servants carried the wooden box that held the stripped flesh were of various races. The newer undead could easily be identified from the red stains on their bones and where bits of flesh and sinew still clung on to the old frame of its former host.
“Oh gods why are they doing that to their own people?” Johan said in a hushed whisper the sound of revulsion present in his tone.
“They are weak and deserve to be punished.” Delte responded “Only the strong shall serve the Lord of Domination.”
“Why keep the flesh though?” Volk asked amazed by what he witnessed.
“Those runes keeps the flesh alive inside the box.” Left-Paw-Alight answered as he watched the whole scene trying to take in as much information as he could “The flesh could be used to make a flesh atronach. We must stop them before they manage to do this.”
“Four against all of them?” Johan said looking at the others in shock.
“Yeah I don't like the odds either.” Volk said as he stroked his black beard in thought “I would of liked to have more of them, would be a fair fight then at least.”
“What!” Johan replied his head snapping back to look at Volk hoping to see a smile on his face. Delte and Left-Paw-Alight just chuckled which didn't relieve Johan from the thought of them going up against the fort filled with cultists.
“We should go in from the top.” Delte said as she pointed to one of the towers that had its back against the cliff face “Climb down to the top of that tower, then we take the upper battlements where the poor sods are being tortured and then reinforce our position there, while I scout the inside to see what we are really up against.”
“Agreed.” Volk and Left-Paw-Alight said in unison.
“Lets move we need to make our way to the other side and above the tower before night fall.” Volk said as he crept backwards away from the boulder that hid him from view of the old fort.
Location:- Shatter-Shield Clan Hold North of Whiterun on the Boarder to Morthal.
Date:- 2E 581First Seed Morndas 16th
The Shatter-Shield clan hold sat a top a mountain plateau surrounded by a tall wooden palisade. On either side of the main gate two large wooden towers stood like silent sentinels. Guards patrolled along the wall and watched the farmers that tended to their crops outside of the walled area. At night the farmers would return to the walled area with their flock to keep them safe from any night time predators whether it be bandits or the local wildlife that roamed the wilderness at night.
Brom rode up the main approach under the mid day sun, after riding all night he was beginning to feel tired and in need of a rest. Where his arm that had been broken and latter healed by the Breton woman Serena, a large bruise had now started to come out. He reached round to his saddle bag and pulled out a hollowed out horn from a horker and blew a two tone note to signal the guards he was friendly. As he approached the gate guards came to greet the young lord on his return home. Brom dismounted his horse and let the stable hands take it away to be tended to. He looked around at the guards looking for a familiar face.
“Where is my father and Kavak?” Brom asked as he brushed his armour down and arranged his fur lined cloak.
“Your father is locked in the long hall and not to be disturbed.” Kavak said as he walked up to greet Brom “I heard your call as you arrived Brom, good journey was it?”
Brom turned and faced Kavak who was Ulfbert's second. He had also been Volk and Brom's old teacher in the art of combat and strategy. Although going grey and age etched on his rugged features the man still made an imposing sight. Kavak had a shaved head that showed a mottled black and grey pattern in the stubble. His long braided beard still mostly jet black covered his chin and mouth, from under two bushy eyebrows two green eyes shone. Broad shoulders and thick muscled arms belied the power this old warrior could summon in battle when wielding his large two handed sword that was slung across his back. Kavak's sword was unique in that its handle was twice as long as the usual nordic design, the handle had no cross guard to it. On the end of the pommel was a carved metal wolfs head. With the handle being longer than it should be this made the blade about half the length of a normal two handed sword. When used in battle by Kavak he swung it like one would swing a staff but with the weight of the blade and with his strength behind this unique weapon it made a deadly combination. Kavak wore a set of furs that protected him from the cold and underneath a suit of chainmail armour with a chest plate and shoulder plates to help deflect attacks in battle.
“Rorikstead was attacked by daedra cultists Kavak.” Brom said as he greeted the older man “Volk has asked for you and the oathsworn to ride out and reinforce the town. I must also speak to the Old Bear, we know where the vipers have their nest. Volk and Paws are there now waiting for me to return with help.”
“The Old Bear has given orders not to be disturbed till tomorrow morning.” Kavak said as he shook Broms hand in the warrior's greeting “He even told all of us to leave the hall, servants and guards all.”
Brom snorted and started to walk through the settlement towards the large longhall that sat atop the hill in the centre dominating the skyline. The longhall was built out of the large pine trees that grew in abundance in Skyrim. The pillars that held up the entrance way and most of the structure was carved with nord runes and pictograms that depicted the Shatter-Shield clan history and saga of ages past that the clan's skalds used to entertain people and teach the younger generation of their heritage.
Kavak walked by Brom's side “Brom I am worried” he confessed to him “Shortly before your father ordered everyone to leave the longhall a group of black robed priests came to visit him.”
“Who are they?” Brom asked as he quickened his pace “What god do they follow?”
“I don't know.” Kavak said in reply trying to keep up with the younger man. “I wasn't present at the time, my men told me when I got back from patrol.”
“Who sent you on patrol Kavak?” Brom said looking at the older warrior.
“Your father Brom. He told me to take half of the men out to scout the northern boarders.” Kavak replied with guilt in his voice.
Brom came to a sudden stop twenty paces from the main doors to the longhall. Instead of being greeted by the sight of two oathsworn he saw two seven foot tall black armoured warriors sporting large spiked maces that stood as tall as Brom and Kavak. The black armour had energy glowing an angry red that seemed to curl into daedric runes. The full face helms had two glowing eyes staring out at the two men.
“Gather the oathsworn.” Brom said to Kavak “We have daedra to kill and my father to save.”
Men and women assembled behind Brom as he continued to watch the two guards at the doors to the longhall. The daedra stood motionless like a pair of black statues, the only thing that belied the fact they was alive was the sight of their breath on the cold air and the glowing red eyes deep in the helmets. Kavak appeared by Brom's side and he handed him a shield, as Brom put the shield on his left arm Kavak placed a helmet over his head and strapped it in place.
“Ready?” Kavak said to Brom.
“Lets do this,” Brom replied with a nod and drew his own sword “all with me.” He raised his sword and started to jog towards the two daedra. The jog turned into a running charge, ten yards from the doors Brom gave a mighty nord battle cry the power in his voice reverberated around the settlement. The sound of his battle charge bolstered the oathsworn and as one they answered back with their own call. The battle cry seemed to galvanise the two daedra into action as they took up their large two handed maces and entered a guard position, they started to move forwards to meet the nord charge head on. The two forces met in a mighty clash of arms. The large maces of the daedra crushed two of the oathsworn, Brom and Kavak ran past them both and turned to cut them down from behind before they could raise the maces to strike a second time. Brom tried the two large oak doors to the longhall and found them locked in place from the inside.
“Axes.” Kavak shouted “Get me in there.” he pointed to the doors.
Three nords ran up to the doors each wielding large two handed axes and began to chop their way through the oak. A rhythm was soon established and within moments the doors hung in tatters with the locking bar broken in two. Brom and Kavak kicked the doors open and ran into the main hall followed by the rest of the oathsworn. The band came to a sudden stop due to the sight that lay before them.
The centre of the hall was dominated by a black stone altar set on a dais that had no seam and looked as if it had been grown from the very rock that the longhall was built upon. A statue behind the altar showed the stony visage of Molag Bal in all his gruesome glory, a human skull grasped firmly in his taloned hand. Black robed priests surrounded the altar with their heads bowed and chanting, on the dais stood a man dressed in a cloak of freshly skinned human skin arms raised in supplication to the statue. In his hands he held a wicked carved dagger that sported evil daedra runes that pulsed with energy. Hanging from the rafters of the hall were some of the servants stripped of their flesh and pools of blood gathering underneath each one. A babies cry was heard coming from the altar, as Brom worked his way round the back of the room he saw a small boy tied to the altar. He recognised the child as that of his nephew and son of Volk and Gresla his wife.
“Kill them all.” Brom shouted and charged at the closest priest cutting him down and interrupting the ritual.
With the death of the priest the rest of the cultists drew various weapons and entered into a melee with the oathsworn, as they did clouds of purple smoke erupted around the hall and their daedra servants tore through the veil that separated Oblivion from Nirn to help in the fray.
“Kill the priests and break the link of their servants.” Kavak shouted the order above the din of battle as he cut down two cultists with his sword.
The priest wearing the human skin cloak turned around and faced Brom. He stopped in his tracks as he looked upon his fathers face.
“Brom my son stand by me in my moment of ascension.” Ulfbert said with his face covered in the blood of his house servants.
Brom's stomach churned his body started to shake with the now conflicting emotions that were running through his mind.
“What is this madness father?” Brom managed through his shock and revulsion “Are you under a spell or being forced to do this?”
“I am in full control.” Ulfbert said spreading his arm wide “My grandson's blood sacrifice will ensure my own immortality in service to the new one god of this world Molag Bal.”
“You raided Volk's farm and killed his eldest, what happened to Gresla?” Realisation struck Brom as to why Volk's home was raided. He looked around for his elder brother and said “Where is Kym my older brother? He would not be part of this I know it.”
Ulfbert shook his head and said “I told him of what we could achieve but he rebelled against me.” an almost sadness in his voice as he slowly pointed to the human skull griped by the statue “So I gave him a place of honour to watch my moment of glory.”
Brom pointed his sword at Ulfbert his heart pounding with rage and spoke in a loud and clear voice above the din of battle that ragged about them. “I challenge you for the right to rule in single combat.”
“Then come at me Boy.” Ulfbert replied with a grin “When you die Volk will be given the chance to join me.”
Around Brom and Ulfbert the battle between the oathsworn and the daedra raged as the priests were killed their daedra servants vanished in puffs of acrid smoke and a scream of frustration. Slowly the cultists were wining due to the weight of numbers against the elite soldiers of the Shatter-Shield clan. Brom gave a battle cry the sound coming from his very soul tainted with his pain and anguish at the revelations of his fathers betrayal of everything he held sacred.
“Reka inn landi.” Brom shouted in his native nord tongue.
A visual wave of energy swept over the oathsworn which seemed to bolster their resolve as Brom charged at his father. Ulfbert ran to meet the charge, a large two handed daedric axe appeared in his hands as he did so.
Brom gained the upper hand and pressed the attack quickly against Ulfbert, the older man stepped back parrying and dodging the assault. He checked one of Broms blows as the back of his right foot hit the wall. Their weapons locked as the fight now became a test of strength. Brom felt his knees going as his father bore down with all his weight and strength onto Brom. Just as he thought his legs were about to give he heard Left-Paw-Alight speak to him from a long ago memory after witnessing the devastation of am hurricane that had swept through the lands when he was younger. “In a hurricane it is better to be a reed than a strong oak.”
Brom dropped onto his right knee and twisted at the hip, Ulfbert surprised at the sudden void of resistance stumbled past trying to stay on his feet. Brom turned quickly back on his feet and pressed the advantage. Ulfbert's long years and expertise in combat allowed him to defend himself even though he was unbalanced, this gave him time to gain his footing once more.
Ulfbert kicked Brom back and followed the move with a running jump bringing his two handed axe down onto the shield Brom held up to protect himself as he struggled to get up off the floor. His shield shattered in two from the blow as the axe struck home, he kicked at Ulfbert's knee which gave way sending his father to the floor with a grunt.
Brom stood up and sliced the leather straps that now held the ruined shield to his arm and drew his dagger. He changed tact in his strategy by reversing his grip on the sword, a move he had seen Delte do in Rorikstead. Ulfbert stood up and gave a frown at the change of fighting style that he now adopted, this turned into a smile and he beckoned his son to attack him.
“Come on Boy, you want to have leadership of the clan. Come and take it.” Ulfbert said in a mocking tone.
Brom started to weave his sword through the air and ran at his father, the speed of the sword pressed the old warrior back into a defensive posture as he parried each pass of the fast moving sword. Shock spread across his face as Brom's dagger pierced his chainmail and entered his left lung, he dropped his daedric axe which vanished back to Oblivion before it hit the floor. Brom's sword sliced across Ulfbert's throat and in one swift movement Brom changed his grip once more on his sword and rammed it through his fathers heart and out through the back. His father was dead before his head hit the stone floor, Brom looked around the hall at the oathsworn that still lived. They had defeated the cultists before the end of Brom's fight with his father and stood to watch an old tradition carried on, Kavak stood and smiled with a nod to Brom happy to see the old traditions to be fulfilled. He then went down on one knee along with the rest of the oathsworn.
“We swear to up hold the laws of the clan and serve the Shattered-Shield as Shor is our witness.” Kavak along with the rest of the oathsworn said which reaffirmed their oaths to Brom and his family.
Brom stood in shock at the scene he had killed his own father for being in league with the very people who he had pretended to be hunting down. The man who had raided his brothers farm and killed his eldest nephew in cold blood. A cry from the altar brought him out of his shock, he turned his head and looked at the baby boy laying tied to the dread altar. Slowly he cut the bonds and gently picked up the infant, as he rocked gently to try and calm the child he turned to Kavak and said. “He won't stop crying, I don't think he is hurt.”
“I think he needs his mother Brom.” Kavak replied with a grin “You don't have what it takes for what ails him. Itard go and find my nephew's wife the poor bairn needs a wet nurse.”
“Clean up this mess and cut those poor sods down.” Brom ordered the oathsworn as he pointed up at the dead servants “I want our dead to be honoured.”
“And your father?” Kavak inquired.
“Burn him with the other cultists.” Came the reply from Brom without emotion “That man wasn't my father.”
The comment hurt Kavak due to the long years of friendship he had with Ulfbert, but could understand Brom's wishes and so with a silent nod he left Brom and began to help in the clean up of the longhall.
Brom sat in his fathers chair with his nephew still clutched to him crying for his mother naked as the day he was born. A few minutes passed and a young woman was escorted into the hall and up to where Brom sat with the baby. She was dressed in a simple blue cotton dress, her long golden hair hung loose over her shoulders. Brom looked at her approaching and she smiled at him, her large brown eyes trying not to look at the carnage that laid around them.
“This is Joldi my nephew's wife.” Kavak introduced her to Brom “She gave birth to a baby girl two weeks ago my lord.”
“What is her name?” Brom asked Joldi.
“Her name is Hreira my lord.” she said with a slight curtsey “I have enough milk to look after your nephew.” she added with a smile.
Brom stood up and offered Joldi the chair he was sat in and gently handed over his nephew to the young mother. She took him and barred her swollen breast and offered it to the child which latched on easily and started to suck.
“Something wrong my lord?” Joldi asked as she noticed Brom watching her.
“No I was just thinking what a beautiful sight. I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable.” Brom replied going red with embarrassment. He looked around the hall and added “Joldi when you have fed Fraki could you take him to some place that has a nicer surround? This place is not fit for a baby at the moment.”
Joldi nodded and rocked gently back and forth to comfort Fraki as he drank his fill.
“My lord what are your orders for the oathsworn?” Kavak addressed Brom as he left the hall.
“Take them to Rorikstead leave half of them there to help rebuild and defend the town.” Brom said still not use to the new title that he had been given “Then you take the rest onto the ruined fort of Broken Tower Redoubt to look for Volk, kill any cultists you find.”
“Who will guard the hall?” Kavak inquired as he walked with Brom to the main doors.
“I will call up the militia it is time they worked off the winter fat.” came the reply from Brom.