December 5, 2014

The Thief in the Snow - Entry XI: Born Under the Steed
The Thief in the Snow
Entry XI: Born Under the Steed
Location: Hjaalmarch Marshes, Hjaalmarch
Date: Loredas, 23rd of Last Seed, 4E 201

I slept in and did not leave for Solitude until it was well near noon. The dream my mind played last night for me was disturbing. Legions of unseen wraiths chased me through endless fog. Every time I thought I found a way out of the marshes, I was drawn back into their murky waters. When I finally awoke, I felt more drained of energy than when I first arrived in Morthal. I readied myself as quickly as possible, eager to leave Hjaalmarch behind. I slogged through the marshes, avoiding hordes of Mubcrabs at every turn. The swamp was an eerie place that was difficult to navigate. As I plodded through the murky knee-high water, I stumbled upon a few ruins and caves but did not investigate any. Once I reached solid land, I discovered what appeared to be a Nordic Tomb with a camp near its entrance. I searched around the area but found nothing of interest except more Mubcrabs and swamp. The trek through the Hjaalmarch Marshes was one I did not wish to repeat and when I saw the massive land bridge that ensconced Solitude, I was overjoyed.
Location: Haafingar Cliffs, Haafingar
Date: Loredas, 23rd of Last Seed, 4E 201

It had taken me hours to finally enter the hold of Haafingar, the heart of the Empire in Skyrim. Haafingar was the smallest hold in the Province of Skyrim and was quite isolated. Mountains separated it from the southern hold of the Reach and the great Karth River separated it from its southeastern neighbor of Hjaalmarch. There was only one way to reach Solitude by road and that was by crossing Dragon Bridge which spanned across the widest stretch of the Karth River. Soon, I could hear the rushing water of the Karth. This powerful river originated high in the Jerall Mountains of Cyrodiil before carving its way through the Reach. Farther north, the Karth River merged with the Hjaal River before ending its lengthy journey into the Sea of Ghosts.

I traipsed closer and closer towards the river until I finally saw Dragon Bridge in the distance. The curvature of the stones and the carved Dragon’s head made the bridge unmistakable. As I crossed the bridge, I could clearly see the great stone arch of Solitude and the towers that lined the cliff side. On the other side of the bridge, I entered the small village of Dragon Bridge to find it bustling with travelers. I passed a Penitus Oculatus Outpost on my way to the local tavern. The Penitus Oculatus were the Emperor’s bodyguards as well as his law enforcers. Their presence in Skyrim showed how deeply the Empire needed to keep control of Skyrim. I had heard rumblings from both citizens loyal to the Empire and allied with the Stormcloaks say that they felt the Thalmor were directly manipulating the Civil War. That these Elves wanted the Empire to continue its infighting with Skyrim, to keep the Humans drained of men and resources. A united Skyrim and Empire could be a force that the Thalmor were not equipped to handle.

Unfortunately, with the Province practically split down the middle, there seemed to be little hope that the Civil War would be resolved anytime soon. I entered Four Shields Tavern and spoke to a patron, Horgeir. He informed me about the happenings of Dragon Bridge and its history. It seemed that Dragon Bridge was one of the major defensives of Solitude and why there was such a heavy Imperial presence. Horgeir also related how the mill where he worked was making mountains of money due to the war. He then changed topics and told me he was having troubles with his wife. By this time, I was trying to excuse myself from the conversation and found my opportunity when a couple entered the tavern. They were farmers from Karthwasten, a village to the south which had been attacked by a Dragon. Their home and farm were razed to the ground so they had travelled to Solitude to start over. I sympathized with their situation for I had had to uproot my life and start anew many times in Cyrodiil. I donated some gold to them so they could stay in Dragon Bridge for a time as they decided on what to do next. They thanked me but I told them that I was just doing what was right.

As I left Dragon Bridge, I spied a Stormcloak Camp; it surprised me that they were so close to Solitude. Upon closer inspection, I could tell that the camp was merely made up of scouts and that they could not mount a sustained attack if they tried. I was sure that the Imperial Legion knew about the camp’s presence but I still planned to tell Hadvar about what I had found. I could hear the bells of the docks ringing in the distance now as I jogged closer and closer to Solitude. I came across the sawmill Horgeir worked at and saw it was still operating even at dusk. He was right; the war had kept them busy if the enormous stacks of milled logs were any indication. As I continued east along the main road towards Solitude, I discovered Katla’s Farm. There, I saw a Breton child tending to the horses and approached him.

As I drew near, he called out, “You probably want someone else. I am just the stable boy. Talk to Geimund if you want a horse, or Katla if you are looking for work. I cannot help you.”

“Dar’Raza thanks this one for the information.” I replied, “What is this one’s name?”

“I am Blaise.” The boy answered with confidence.

I chuckled, “How does this one like the farm?”

Blaise sighed heavily, “I hate it. Everyone feels sorry for me, they do not treat me to bad, but…”

“Sorry? For what?” I queried.

“Both my parents were in the Legion.” he answered solemnly. “There was… an ambush. Katla said she would feed me if I could make myself useful. I take care of the animals, run errands, that kind of thing. I guess it could be worse, but…” Blaise paused for a moment before continuing, “I am sick of sleeping outside with the horses. I want a real home, real parents. Not… this.”

I only nodded my head in silence. I thought back to Lucia in Whiterun and how her predicament was much the same as Blaise. Once I had sorted out this whole Dragonborn and Greybeard business, I vowed that I would find a way to help both Blaise and Lucia. There must be somewhere they could go to not only live but to be cared for.

Before making my way to Solitude, I explored the surrounding area which included Mount Kilkreath. I located the Thalmor Embassy and fought the urge to rush inside and murder all the Elves. The Thalmor were the governing body over the Aldmeri Dominion, the alliance formed between the Mer races of Tamriel. This was not the first time this alliance had been forged but actually the third. The First Aldmeri Dominion was formed to stop the Molag Bal worshipers who had taken over the Empire in the Second Era. It was led by the honorable Queen Ayrenn who was young but wise beyond her years. She had helped to restore order in Elsweyr when the Knahaten Flu rampaged through the land. To repay this debt, the Khajiit joined the First Aldmeri Dominion and assisted in its battle to take control of Cyrodiil. Since then, Elsweyr has always aligned itself with the Aldmeri Dominion. Almost a hundred years ago the Void Nights happened, a phenomenon that caused the two moons of Nirn, Masser and Secunda, to disappear for two years. Because of the significance the moons play in Khajiit religion and in our general way of life, Elsweyr was thrown into a constant state of chaos. When the moons did return, the Thalmor claimed responsibility, causing a massive decline in Imperial support. Eventually the ruling body of Elsweyr, the Elsweyr Confederacy, was overthrown and replaced with the kingdoms of Anequina and Pelletine. Seeing the perfect opportunity, the Thalmor reformed their alliance to create the Third Aldmeri Dominion by first adopting Anequina and Pelletine as client states. Their aggressive expansion caught the attention of the Mede Empire and eventually led to all-out war, known as the Great War, before the White-Gold Concordat was signed. Now Cyrodiil, Skyrim, and all the Empire were under the influence of the Thalmor and the Concordat.

I continued hiking through the vast mountain range that inhabited much of Haafingar. I stumbled upon Ironback Hideout where four Bandits were inventorying the items they procured when they raided a caravan of farmers from Karthwasten. I overheard them bragging about how easy the farmers were to kill and how many of the items they had stolen were worthless. I was able to get the drop on them; literally, as I jumped down from the cliff side above and killed two Bandits before they even had the chance to defend themselves. The other two Bandits quickly drew their weapons and began to attack. My speed was no match for them and I countered effortlessly, attacking when I saw the opening. In a few short minutes, I had defeated all of the Bandits.

I turned north of the hideout and trekked around the mountainside. In the distance I could see a stone pillar of sorts and was curious to investigate. Once I approached the pillar I realized it was a Standing Stone. Legend stated they were ancient magical stones that bestowed a gift upon worthy heroes of old, giving them powers to rewrite their fate. No one knew why the Stones only reacted to certain individuals or how they imbued these individuals with gifts. Each Standing Stone was different, having a constellation carved into its body, and each gave a different gift. As I examined the Stone, I could see the outline of a horse carved into it. The constellations of Tamriel consisted of three Guardian Constellations; the Warrior, the Mage, and the Thief. Each of these Guardian Constellations had constellations that fell under their protection, and these charges along with their Guardian Constellations all governed over a specific season. It was Last Seed now, the season of the Warrior. My birthsign happened to be the Warrior’s charge, The Steed. Her season was Mid Year and it was said that those born under her sign were impatient and always traveling from one place to another. My journey from Elsweyr to Cyrodiil and finally Skyrim attested to my birthsign. At least there was a good reason for my constant restlessness. The Standing Stone before me was the Steed Stone and I felt that it was only appropriate that I tried to accept a gift from this Stone.

I reached out my paw and caressed the symbol on the Stone. A flash of bluish light illuminated the darkness and I could feel a lightness to my step. I sprinted around the Stone for a few moments before realizing what the gift I had been granted was. My armor felt like it weighed nothing and the gear I had been carrying felt light as a feather. I could run faster and jump higher for I was no longer encumbered by the items I carried. I gave a low bow to the Steed Stone before bounding down the mountain towards Solitude.

Farther down the mountain, I could see the Statue to Meridia in the distance. She was a Daedric Prince of Life, the Lady of Infinite Energies and was always said to come in the form of a beautiful woman. I had also heard tales of her hatred for all things undead. When I was a child, I was often told the story of Rajhin, the Thief god of the Khajiit. He was the most successful thief in all of Elsweyr’s history. Rajhin used an ancient relic from Meridia, the Ring of Khajiit, to make himself disappear. Legend states that he was even able to steal a tattoo from the neck of Empress Kintyra Septim. No one knows what happened to Rajhin but most stories relate how the ring rebelled against such abuse that it disappeared, leaving the Khajiit thief helpless before his enemies. I was no Rajhin but I hoped that Meridia was pleased with all the Draugr I had slain previously that she might one day reward me with a ring of my own.

As I reached the main road towards Solitude, I was ambushed by an Altmer Mage who casted fireballs at me but my newly gifted powers allowed me to dodge the blasts swiftly. With my augmented agility I burst forward, closing the distance between us in a blink of an eye. Daggers drawn, I plunged them into the mage before she could even think about casting a healing spell. As I continued along the road towards the main gate of Solitude, I could hear voices in the distance. As I drew near, I observed two Khajiit conversing with the Solitude gate Guard. They were trying to convince him to allow them to set up their Caravan outside of the city. He did not seem too keen on giving any space to them but he finally acquiesced much to the delight of the Khajiit. After they had finished their conversation I approached and introduced myself. The Master Caravaneer was none other than Ma’dran, the Khajiit who had requested a Mammoth Tusk from Ysolda of Whiterun. We talked for a while about the Civil War, Dragons, and the general harshness of the Province compared to Cyrodiil and Elsweyr. I mentioned to him that I was contemplating joining Ri’saad’s Caravan and he related how it was Ri’saad who convinced him to come to Skyrim.

It was near midnight when I left Ma’dran and sauntered up to the main gate. I could still hear the bells ringing from the docks and I spied the silhouettes of sails in the distance. Solitude was a main hub of trade in Skyrim because of its location right on the coast of the Sea of Ghosts. The East Empire Company was located here and many ships entered the docks below the great stone arch that Solitude was perched upon. As I neared the main gate, the Guard held up his hand and told me that the Khajiit Caravan was down the road. I bit my tongue to keep from making a snide remark; this was after all the way things were done in Skyrim. I told him I was Thane of Whiterun and showed him proof. Like so many had done before, the Guard gave me a skeptical look but allowed me entry to Solitude. He mentioned that if I was interested in joining the Imperial Legion, I should see Legate Rikke at Castle Dour and if not, to keep my nose clean or I would end up like Roggvir. I inquired to whom this person was and the Guard told me the tale of Roggvir, a gate guard that allowed Ulfric Stormcloak to escape the city after he had assassinated High King Torygg. Roggvir had been convicted of treason and was about to be beheaded in the main square at midnight. I instinctively pulled at the collar of my armor; I had had my fair share of beheadings that I was not too eager to see more. It was too late for that as the Guard opened the main gate and ushered me inside.

November 7, 2014

Worth Fighting For - Entry III: Things That go Boom
Entry III: Things That go Boom
Location: Brooklyn Rebel Base
Date: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2003

It had been three months since we freed Isabella and rescued Troy. The fight for freedom has never waned during this time. The Soviet forces had been diligently arresting people and relocating them to Alaska for “retraining.” Isabella and Mr. Jones had implemented various strategies to beat back the Reds but every inch of ground we regained, we lost ten more in another district. Phil was fed up with the situation, it was his group that did most of the fighting and they had little to show for it. Chris rose quickly in the Manhattan Resistance ranks and now led his own fighters into battle. I had accompanied him many times, trying my best to record our struggles and triumphs.

It was autumn now and the weather had turned bitterly cold. I could tell that the mood had changed and that a plan was being formed. Isabella and Phil were arguing in the command tent when Chris and I approached. I only heard pieces of their plan but it sounded like Phil wanted to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge to try and cut off the Reds from Manhattan. Isabella thought it was too risky but Phil was adamant that we needed to hit back and hit back hard. Mr. Jones was still in Manhattan, fighting the Reds and helping civilians in that area. His calming influence and level headed thinking were sorely missed in times like these. Troy had also been away from the base for a few months. He had convinced Isabella and Chris to let him travel outside of Manhattan to recruit members and start resistance groups in outlying areas. His goal was to build a strong enough network of resistance fighters that we would turn into a national movement. His goals were admirable but Chris had told him to just focus on New York for now.

Isabella and Phil continued arguing for a few more minutes until they both realized that Chris and I had appeared. Phil pointed at us and flatly told Isabella that the three of us would be more than willing to blow up the bridge if she was too afraid to do it. Isabella yelled back at Phil, telling him that even if we could get near the bridge, we didn’t have the explosives to blow it up. Phil countered that if we sat by and did nothing, that the Reds would weed us out within the month. I thought Isabella was going to punch Phil but Chris intervened, pointing to the map of Manhattan that was lying on the table. We all leaned in to see what he had set his finger on – the Brooklyn Hotel. The Soviets had established a base of operations inside the old hotel when they took over the entire block. There was an abandoned diner where the Reds stored their explosives and the dilapidated apartment buildings were used to hold prisoners. Isabella laughed and Phil slapped Chris on the back, if we could take down the Brooklyn Hotel, we would be in control of the diner. With those explosives, we could destroy the Brooklyn Bridge and deliver a crippling blow to the Soviet Armed Forces.

Location: Brooklyn Hotel
Date: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2003

I found myself on the street corner near the Brooklyn Hotel late at night. Chris, Phil, Billy, and Miguel were also with me. It was Chris’ plan to attack the hotel and so he was the one chosen to lead the assault. Phil, of course, volunteered to join him and I followed Chris wherever he went. Billy and Miguel had also remained loyal to Chris after helping us rescue Troy. Many people now respected Chris and his ability to fight, now more than ever, with the SAFN declaring him to be the infamous “Freedom Phantom.”

As we surveyed the city blocks leading up to the hotel, we quickly surmised that we were outnumbered and outgunned. Helicopters roamed the skies overhead, patrolling the surrounding area with their heavy machine guns. Soviet troops littered the area, either marching up and down the sidewalks or standing guard at the many defensive posts scattered across the streets. We all knew that we had to abort the mission, there was no way the five of us could beat the SAF here.

Chris wasn’t about to give up though. We could see the abandoned diner close by and knew that there were prisoners being held in the vicinity. Phil suggested that he and Miguel create a distraction to lure as many SAF away while the rest of us sneak in and steal the C4 we needed to blow the Brooklyn Bridge and other structures that might need to be demolished. With the go ahead from Chris, the two took off in the opposite direction. Chris, Billy, and I snuck closer to the diner. It was wedged between two tall apartment buildings and had only a few guards around it. We climbed over a chain-link fence and snuck into the back parking lot where we waited.

Boom! That was our signal. Phil and Miguel had rigged a car to explode and now the Reds were running towards the sound. Only three soldiers stayed behind to guard the diner. In a coordinated attack, we snuck up and killed the three soldiers stealthily with our knives. Three months of training and battle hardened skills had turned me into a warrior and not just a journalist that sat on the sidelines.  We quickly packed as much C4 as we could fit into our bags before scurrying over the fence and back to our original hiding place. Phil and Miguel were already waiting for us and had intel on the prisoners that were being held nearby.
Location: Brooklyn Harbor
Date: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2003

Chris decided that it was best for us to split into two groups. Phil and Miguel had already scouted out the area surrounding the Brooklyn Hotel and had an idea where the POWs were being held. They would try and rescue as many prisoners as they could while the rest of us headed to the Brooklyn Harbor. It was there that the Reds stored their small arms and artillery for the troops in the area. It had become a major shipping hub for the SAF with ships coming from Mother Russia almost every day. The helicopter fueling station was also located near the harbor, by blowing this up, we could ground the Soviet chopper fleet that guarded the hotel.

We snaked our way through dark alleys and abandoned buildings until we could spot the large maze of warehouses near the ocean. We were all taken by surprise when a soldier snuck up behind us. She announced herself as a friendly and introduced herself as Charlie Raider. She had been one of the POWs that Phil and Miguel had set free only minutes ago near the hotel. She wanted to do her part and volunteered to track us down and assist us with blowing the fuel station. Chris gladly welcomed the help and thanked Charlie for getting back into the fight so quickly.

As we scanned the warehouses, we could see that they were heavily guarded. Reds were everywhere; we estimated that over 50 were on patrol, weaving their way around the network of buildings. Guard towers were scattered throughout the harbor and their spotlights reached almost every corner of the area. We knew that there had to be tens if not hundreds of soldiers we couldn’t see inside the various warehouses. Billy pointed to the west that there was a manhole that connected to the sewers. It was a good place to regroup if we got split up when we infiltrated the maze. A ship was just pulling into port and Chris thought that its presence would be our opportunity to try and sneak in. With the soldiers unloading supplies from the ship, we hoped that their security would lapse and we would be able to set our explosives without any confrontation.

For the first few rows of warehouses we passed, our plan worked. A few spotlights were turned towards the dock to help illuminate the transfer which created cover for us to advance. Chris had targeted a warehouse in the center of the harbor. We had witnessed the Reds storing explosives in that building and knew if we blew them up; it would cause a chain reaction throughout the other warehouses. As we crept closer and closer to our destination, the soldier movement began to increase.  We were only four people, but it was hard for us to remain undetected with all the activity the supply ship had brought.

We passed another row of warehouses when all of a sudden we heard voices growing louder. Two SAF were pushing a cart full of boxes directly towards us. Billy was the first to act, opening a door to a warehouse and ushering us all inside. We closed the door just as the soldiers passed. We all were about to breathe a sigh of relief when we turned around only to realize that we had not taken refuge in an empty building but in a warehouse that was converted into a barracks. We had stumbled upon ten unsuspecting Reds, some playing a card game and a few others lying on their racks. Chris was the first to react and opened fire. Our presence was now known and we had but one option, fight our way through.

The Reds were unprepared for our assault and we defeated the enemy before us with ease, but the sound of gunfire alerted the hundreds of soldiers outside of our existence. Chris knew we had to pull back and ordered us to retreat towards the western end of the harbor where the manhole was located. We ran out the door, firing blindly at the Reds who had gathered in front of it. I sprinted ahead with Billy, trying to clear a path for us to escape, as Chris and Charlie covered our six. Two SAF jumped out in front of us, I shot one in the gut and he crumpled at my feet. Billy hunched forward and rammed his shoulder into the other man with all his might, knocking the SAF to the ground.

We kept racing and winding our way through the labyrinth of warehouses, not sure how close we were to the safety of the sewers. We had to have been close, maybe two buildings away when we heard Charlie cry out in pain. She was lying on the ground, blood pouring from her side and spilling onto the concrete. Chris was laying down covering fire as Billy and I ran to pick her up. We half dragged, half carried her into an empty warehouse. She was bleeding out and having a hard time staying awake. Chris had caught up to us by now and tore his shirt to use as a bandage. Billy and I stood guard while Chris tried his best to patch Charlie up.

We were all tense, we had been in danger before but this time it felt like we were done for. I tried to stay focused but my mind wandered. How did I let myself get wrapped up in all this, I was a journalist not a fighter. I shouldn’t have even been here but then I remembered who I was with. Chris had led us out of situations many times before and I couldn’t doubt that he would fail us now. Then that’s when I spotted it, outside of the window, I saw the manhole but it was already opened. I motioned for Billy to cover me while I opened the back door to get a closer look. When I did, five people started to climb out of the sewers.

I jumped and readied my gun but Chris put his hand on my shoulder and told me that they were friendly. I looked closer and could see that it was none other than Phil Bagzton and Miguel Bishop, with three other resistance fighters in tow. Phil informed us that he figured we might need help so he brought the other POWs he and Miguel had rescued to try and provide assistance. The three new resistance members quickly introduced themselves as Steven Ryan, Tony Ramos, and Manny Perez. After we did a quick round of introductions ourselves, Chris explained the situation we now found ourselves in.

At first, Chris was thinking of aborting the mission but if we left now, we would never get another chance to blow up the warehouse. No way would the Reds let us waltz back in here so easily. Tony volunteered to help get Charlie back to safety; he was the only one who knew his way around the sewers. Chris agreed and we quickly got Charlie and Tony into the sewers and on their way home. As for the rest of us, Chris had a plan. He wanted Phil, Miguel, and Billy to head towards the helicopter fueling station that was on the eastern side of the harbor. They were to wait for Chris, myself, Steven, and Manny to make our way towards the explosives warehouse. Chris hoped that this would create enough of a diversion to allow Phil and his squad to make it across the harbor with little fighting. We all nodded in agreement, it was now or never to finish this.

Chris led the way with Manny while Steven and I covered our backs. The Reds were still searching the nearby vicinity but had no idea where we were exactly. Phil had rigged up a little present for us, setting a grenade to go off a few minutes after we had left the safety of the warehouse. It went off just in time to lure the Reds away from us and towards the bait. We raced onwards towards the explosives warehouse. It was located in a courtyard that was only accessible by entering another warehouse attached to it.

When we broke through the door, we found that this other warehouse was some kind of command room for it was filled with communications equipment and Russian officers. We all dove for cover behind the file cabinets that lined the room. SAF officers were no laughing matter, they were well-trained and had deadly accuracy. We were hunkered down, unable to advance when Steven called out to me. I looked up to where he was pointing, a soldier was climbing across the scaffolding to try and shoot down on us. I yelled for Steven to provide covering fire while I leaned out and shot the Red from his perch. He fell down on the other officers below him, knocking all of them to the ground. Chris didn’t waste this opportunity and was able to eliminate them while Steven and Manny finished off the remaining Reds in the room.

We advanced quickly, climbing the stairs to the upper level of the building. There, Chris found a sniper rifle and a window overlooking the courtyard. He proficiently mapped out our plan of attack. Steven and Manny were going to enter the courtyard to draw the attention of the dozen or so Reds awaiting us. I was going to flank around, laying down fire to pin the Reds in position while Chris would remain in the loft with the newly acquired sniper rifle. We executed Chris’ plan almost flawlessly. Steven and Manny were able to draw the Reds fire long enough for me to flank them and keep them behind the cover they were using in the courtyard. Chris then unleashed hell from above with his sniper rifle; killing every enemy that stood in our way.

It was eerie walking across the now silent courtyard. We were almost at our destination with the munitions warehouse before us. With everything that had gone wrong, I was a little surprised that we had survived this long. A tiny smirk crossed my lips when a sudden explosion erupted in the distance. We all dove to the ground and scrambled to find cover. A few seconds had passed when Manny broke out in laughter. I shot Steven a quizzical look but then Chris joined Manny with a chuckle. I then realized that the explosion we heard was the helicopter fueling station being destroyed by Phil, Miguel, and Billy. We were one step closer to the Brooklyn Hotel and now it was our turn. The four of us quickly placed our C4 around the warehouse and set the charges. With another gigantic bang, we leveled the ammunitions warehouse to the ground; rendering the Reds ammunition and artillery into a useless pile of rubble.

October 25, 2014

The Thief in the Snow - Entry X: The Road to Solitude
The Thief in the Snow
Entry X: The Road to Solitude
Location: Whiterun Plains, Whiterun Hold
Date: Fredas, 22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201

It was midmorning when I left Whiterun and headed northwest towards Solitude. I followed the road south of Fort Greymoor and stumbled upon a small ruin. There was a puzzle door similar to the one in Bleak Falls Barrow and I solved it without much difficulty. Beneath the ruin was a chest that housed a book entitled ‘A Hypothetical Treachery.’ It may surprise many but I have always had a voracious appetite for books and I go out of my way to collect as many as I can find. I looked forward to sitting next to the fire pit in Breezehome and reading this book once I had returned from Solitude. I continued my trek northwest, taking to the open plains rather than following the main stone road as I could travel faster that way. A few minutes after leaving the main road, I discovered Sleeping Tree Camp, another giant camp. This one was quite different from the other camps I had located previously. There was a tree in the center of a pond but it was no normal tree. Its trunk was white with a lavender hue and the pond water was also a purplish color. It looked like nothing I had ever seen before, almost as if the tree were magical. I did not approach too closely for fear of retaliation from the Giants but I found the tree curious and reminded myself to inquire about it back at the Bannered Mare in Whiterun.

As I bounded over the hills of Whiterun Plains, I came across a lone Mammoth. It was rare for one of these monstrous creatures to be alone and unattended. I decided to try my luck and see if I could slay the beast. I hid behind a small knoll and fired almost a dozen arrows before the Mammoth realized where I was attacking from. It charged at me but I quickly bounded around the knoll, using it as a shield. The Mammoth trumpeted and charged again but it was too bulky to maneuver around the knoll to catch me. Almost forty arrows went into the sides of the Mammoth before it finally fell to the ground, lifeless. I heard a distant roar and knew I had to quickly skin the animal and take its tusks before the Giant arrived. I finished my work just in time to escape, fleeing from the Mammoth’s corpse and from the Giant whom had come to take revenge for the death of one of its herd.

I had strayed off course when I ran away from the Giant and came upon a Shrine of Stendarr. One of the Nine Divines, well Eight Divines now that Talos worship was banned, Stendarr was the god of righteousness and mercy. Many law-abiding citizens worshipped Stendarr and he was also the patron of the Imperial Legion. ‘Heh, Law-abiding.’ I chuckled to myself. In the Khajiit Pantheon of deities, Stendarr was known as S’rendarr and was a spiritual child of Ahnurr and Fadomai. He was one of the few Nine Divines that the Khajiit worshipped or at least in form he was similar. Like Azura, the Khajiit deities were not exactly the same as the ones these Nords of Skyrim worshipped. While some Khajiit would not take kindly to using a ‘false’ shrine such as this one, I did not have such qualms. It was close enough and I always wanted to try and stay on the good side of any Divine so I decided to give an offering.

As I placed a few gold coins and a bouquet of mountain flowers near the Shrine, I softly spoke a prayer, “Come to me, S’rendarr, for without you, I might be deaf to the manswarm murmurings of thy people, and forgetting their need for comfort and wisdom, I might indulge myself in vain scribbling.”

As I continued towards Solitude, I discovered Swindler’s Den only to find a Bandit guarding the entrance. I tried to carry on with my journey but the Bandit felt that I was a threat and attacked. He was no match for my daggers as I sliced open his chest. Bandits, they will never learn to leave me alone. I also spotted a few odd sights along the way. There was a small pond with a Giant Mudcrab carcass rotting along its banks. I was glad to see that it was dead for the creature was as large as a horse! There was also a strange stone pillar called Gjukar’s Monument. I assumed it was a war memorial of some kind and had no clues to tell me otherwise. Near the monument was a Corundum Ore vein, which I mined before continuing northwest. I glimpsed another pond in the distance only to find a Sabre Cat eating a dead Bandit. I shot it twice but the arrows only seemed to annoy the beast as it lunged towards me. Three more arrows into its neck and it still sunk its claws into my side. I was able to roll out of the way before the Sabre Cat lunged again, firing an arrow directly into its mouth. As I collected myself, I could not help but think this Sabre Cat must have been a descendant of a Cathay-raht, a breed of Khajiit known as ‘Jaguar-Men.’ Cathay-raht were agile and powerful warriors with sharply pointed ears, glowing yellow eyes, and a whip like tail. Some even said that they Cathay-raht were as powerful as a Werewolf or a Werelion. Unfortunately, I had not been born under a waxing Masser and Secunda and thus was not gifted with such incredible powers.

As I walked over a large hillcrest, I beheld the village of Rorikstead below me. As I ran down the hill, I could hear the nearby buzzing of a Beehive and went to investigate. I carefully collected the Honeycomb before the Bees could get too agitated at my intrusion. As I continued towards Rorikstead, I was attacked by two Bandits. The first went down quickly as I placed an arrow in each side of his chest.

With her comrade dead, the second Bandit screamed at me with raged, “You will make a fine rug, cat!”

I had no plans to meet the same fate as the Sabre Cat I had skinned earlier so I drew my daggers. She swung a warhammer at my head but I dodged the blow swiftly and struck out at her side. She grimaced in pain but continued her assault. As each hammer swing fell to the ground, I attacked with deft precision. The Bandit realized too late that she could never hit me with such a cumbersome weapon. With one last weakened attempt to raise her warhammer, the Bandit collapsed on the ground, her blood painting the grass red. I have never taken pleasure in killing my enemies and always sought to end their lives quickly. I ended the Bandit’s life with one swift motion of my blade, not letting her suffer needlessly before I looted her body and the corpse of her companion. After I had collected what valuables I could find, I trekked towards Rorikstead, the settlement at the edge of Whiterun Hold.
Location: Rorikstead, Whiterun Hold
Date: Fredas, 22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201

At the western edge of Whiterun Hold stood Rorikstead, a small farming community that prided itself on the crops it grew. Some even said Rorikstead was favored by the Divines, for every season was prosperous. As I entered the village, the farmers glanced up from their work in the fields but only momentarily, before returning to their plows and pitchforks. While small, Rorikstead was located at the crossroads that led from Whiterun Hold to the Reach in the west and Haafingar to the north. Thus, the farmers of Rorikstead were not surprised by my appearance for they were used to seeing the Khajiit Caravans traveling amongst the three holds.

As I sauntered towards Frostfruit Inn, a young farmer waved at me and asked for a moment of my time. His name was Erik and he wished to leave farming behind and become an adventurer like me. His father, Mralki, was an Imperial Legionnaire before settling down and buying Frostfruit Inn. Erik begged me to speak with his father on his behalf and try to convince Mralki to let him follow his dream. ‘This again?’ I sighed to myself. It always seemed like people wanted me to help them with their own affairs. I often found it odd, considering my social standing here in Skyrim. I was already planning on asking for information at the inn so Erik’s request was not out of my way. I nodded and told him I would speak with his father but gave him no guarantees that I would be able to change the man’s mind.

Inside, Frostfruit Inn was surprisingly quiet for an inn. A bard was asleep by the fire pit and I was the only patron. I spoke to Mralki first about the happenings around Rorikstead. Other than a single Dragon sighting, things had been quiet. Imperial Couriers would stop at the inn from time to time as they traveled from Solitude to the other loyal holds. While Jarl Balgruuf had not sided with or against the Empire, the holds of Falkreath, the Reach, Haafingar, and Hjaalmarch were firmly under the Empire’s dominion. I had yet to travel to any of these holds but I knew I would soon find myself in Haafingar and eventually its capital city, Solitude. I carefully guided the conversation with Mralki towards his son and his son’s wish to become an adventurer. The old Legionnaire had a hard time accepting his son’s dream but with a little persuasion, Mralki agreed to give Erik enough money to train and buy armor in Whiterun. When Erik heard the good news, he was ecstatic and planned to leave for Whiterun immediately. He thanked his father and me for my assistance before departing to prepare for his journey. I, myself, had a journey to fulfill and bid farewell before leaving Rorikstead and Whiterun Hold behind.
Location: Hjaalmarch Marshes, Hjaalmarch
Date: Fredas, 22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201

I cut northeast of Rorikstead, choosing to follow the Hjaal River into the hold of Hjaalmarch towards Morthal, before continuing father north to Solitude. It was one of the smaller holds in Skyrim, wedged between Whiterun Hold to the south and Haafingar to the north. Its capital, Morthal, was positioned in the middle of a dense marsh. I had heard tales of these eerie marshes that encompassed Hjaalmarch. From the unending fog to the hordes of Mubcrabs and Frostbite Spiders, the Hjaalmarch Marshes were a hostile and uninviting place. Because of its surroundings, Morthal stayed isolated and generally distant from most events in Skyrim, choosing to keep to itself. Although Hjaalmarch sided with the Empire, it had little strategic value thus it had little involvement in the conflicts against the Stormcloaks.

As I trudged along the banks of the Hjaal River, I came upon a gruesome sight at Orotheim. Rotting corpses impaled on stakes served as a warning to all who came near the cave. I was sure this must have been the work of bandits that used the den for their hideout. I investigated the cave but found it to be unoccupied at the time. I made a note to patrol the area again, after I had finished in Morthal. I continued north when I met a Fisherman at Crabber’s Shanty. She was cleaning Mudcrabs as I passed by. I smiled and waved at her as I bounded across the low lying riverbank. She could only gape at me as I sprinted north.

Further on, I uncovered Dead Men’s Respite, another Nordic Tomb like Bleak Falls Barrow. Down near the road there was a Hunter being attacked by a Spriggan and a Bear. Made entirely of wood and magic, Spriggans were nasty creatures, attacking all that came too close to their sacred forests. Often enthralling the local wildlife, Spriggans could turn even your beloved pet against you. I hurried down the hill towards the Hunter but I was too late. The Spriggan and its Bear slaughtered the Hunter and then turned their attention to me. Spriggans have the ability to heal themselves so I knew I must dispatch the creature with the utmost urgency. I swam across the Hjaal River, it was wide and flowing swiftly, I knew the Spriggan would not follow but the Bear would. Separating the creature from its enthralled ‘pet,’ I was able to focus on one enemy at a time. With my bow, I launched arrow after arrow into the Bear until it succumbed. Next, I began firing arrows at the Spriggan, but the creature was too swift and evaded every shot. I pulled out my Steel Dagger and my Flames spell, charging directly at the creature. The rushing water made it hard to keep my balance but I was able to weaken the Spriggan with my Flames spell and land the fatal blow with my dagger. With my battle finished, I resumed my trek to Morthal.
Location: Morthal, Hjaalmarch
Date: Fredas, 22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201

It was late evening when I finally arrived in Morthal. A Guard stopped me on the wooden bridge that led into the city, informing me that Khajiit were not allowed and that I must leave. I showed him proof that I was Whiterun’s Thane; he glared at me skeptically and insisted that I must be mistaken. Then I related the story of the Dragon, how I was Dragonborn, and how I must be allowed to enter. Reluctantly he yielded to my request, not before questioning me for five more minutes. People like the Guard made me question whether or not Skyrim was really worth saving at all. Maybe the Dragons were a blessing in disguise.

As I entered Morthal, I saw a mob gathering outside of the Jarl’s Hall, voicing concern to who I assumed was the Jarl’s Housecarl. As I witnessed the mob’s unrest, I learned that they feared for the city’s safety but from whom, I did not know. The Housecarl was able to disperse the mob but the unsettled feeling remained. The citizens of Morthal were on edge and so too were the guards. Even with Dragons appearing across Skyrim, I felt this uneasiness had to do with something more.

It was late so I stopped at the Moorside Inn for rest and information before continuing on to Solitude. I was close now; the cliffs of Haafingar could be seen in the distance. Morthal and Solitude were the only hold capitals that overlooked each other. All the other capitals were much more secluded from neighboring holds. A short trek across the marshes and I should reach my destination by midday. Before turning in for the night I spoke with the innkeeper, Jonna a Redguard, concerning any news of the city. She related a depressing tale about how Hroggar’s house had burnt down with his wife and child inside. Many of the citizens of Morthal suspected Hroggar of actually setting the fire because he married Alva the very next day. The Jarl was offering a bounty to anyone who could uncover the truth, but I had to continue on my way. I would return to Morthal again and maybe discern what had truly happened. I thanked Jonna for the information, turned in for the night, and dreamt of being lost forever in the marshes.

September 26, 2014

Worth Fighting For - Entry II: Going Postal
Worth Fighting For
Entry II: Going Postal
Location: Brooklyn Rebel Base
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2003

After spending a few days in the Manhattan Rebel Base resting and reorganizing, I traveled with Phil, Chris, and a handful of other Manhattan Resistance members to another rebel base located under Brooklyn. While mayhem reigned above ground, the reprieve we received allowed the Resistance to gather intelligence on the locations of Isabella and Chris’ brother, Troy. Scouts discovered that the Soviet Armed Forces were using the Brooklyn Post Office as a stronghold and supply depot to support troops advancing into the city. They also discovered that Troy was being held there as well, awaiting transportation to an Alaskan “retraining” facility. Isabella was being held in a different location, at the Brooklyn Police Station. She was probably being interrogated about the Manhattan Resistance, its numbers, and its capabilities. Mr. Jones had devised a plan, sending Phil and anyone willing to go rescue Isabella to Brooklyn while he and the remaining Freedom Fighters stayed behind in Manhattan. His goal was simple, try and keep the fight for freedom alive in Manhattan. Chris instantly volunteered to accompany Phil to Brooklyn, he was determined to rescue his brother. I decided to tag along and provide what minor assistance I could.

Once we arrived at the Brooklyn Rebel Base, Phil and Chris began to butt heads. Phil’s objective was to rescue Isabella first yet Chris wanted to save his brother right away. After some arguing, Chris decided to try and rescue Troy on his own. I wasn’t about to let him play cowboy and get himself killed. I offered to back him up and suggested we try and investigate the area before we ran in with guns drawn. Chris thanked me for my help and Phil wished us luck. While Phil had his own mission, he told us that once Isabella was safe, that he would assist us in rescuing Troy. Armed with a couple of AK-47s, Chris and I left the safety of the sewers with no knowledge of what awaited us.

Location: Brooklyn Post Office
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2003

We emerged from the sewers to find ourselves in an alley that was hidden from the street. It was eerily quiet out. The previous sounds of screams and explosions could not be heard and there was no one in sight. We snuck our way towards the post office and as we drew closer to the street, we could hear the hum of military trucks passing by. We were about to step out onto the street when a young man came running up to us. He called himself “the Kid” and told us that it would be suicide to try and enter the post office. The Kid informed us that there were literally hundreds of Reds swarming around the post office and that we’d need reinforcements to try and breach the building. Chris was about to ignore the Kid’s warning but before he could another SAF truck pulled in front of the post office and a dozen SAF soldiers jumped out of the back. The Kid suggested that we try and help the police officers that were pinned down by a sniper’s nest not far from the post office. Doing so would help Phil’s group of Freedom Fighters in gaining access to the police station to rescue Isabella. After Isabella was saved, the other Freedom Fighters would be able to provide us support. It seemed like we would have to rescue Isabella before we could save Troy.
Location: Brooklyn Gas Station
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2003

Before I could even answer, Chris had run off in the direction of the police station. I followed close behind and yelled a hasty “thank you” to the Kid. It only took us a few minutes to find the front of the police station. It wasn’t hard to miss with tanks surrounding the building and a Russian flag flying over it. There were a couple overturned police cars and roughly six officers taking cover behind them. We cautiously approach, very aware of the snipers perched on top of a gas station roof nearby. The police chief waved us over, yelling that we were crazy to be out in the middle of the street like that. Chris asked him if he had seen any of Phil’s resistance group or if they knew about the hostage, Isabella, but the chief just shook his head. We both knew that there was no way Phil could get close to the station with those snipers firing unchecked up there. Chris assured the chief that we would destroy the snipers’ nest so they could move in and try to retake the station. The chief told us to be careful and handed us both a package of C4 to use on the gas station.

I looked wide-eyed at the dangerous package in my hand but Chris reassured me he knew how to use the stuff. A plumber that knew how to handle C4? I didn’t question him but only tucked it away before preparing to make the mad dash across the street. There, we found a manhole and climbed down into the sewers. Once underground, we could easily make our way to the back of the gas station and sneak up on the snipers without anyone noticing us, or at least I hoped that would be the case. We reached our destination and climbed to the surface again. There were three Reds guarding the back entrance of the gas station. We opened fired, my bullets sprayed wildly, missing their targets but Chris was deadly accurate. Within a few seconds the three Reds were dead and we were marching towards the gas station. The snipers didn’t seem to notice the gunfire for the police officers were doing their best to keep the snipers occupied. It took Chris a few minutes to set the C4 in the best places and start the countdown. We scurried like mice back into the sewers only to arrive just before a loud explosion rocked the air above us. The gas station had been completely demolished and the police officers were now free to move towards the police station.!%27
Location: Brooklyn Police Station
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2003

We returned to the police chief, ready to rush into the station but he suggested that we use the subway tunnel and sneak into the garage before making it inside the station. He told us he would take his officers and keep the Reds occupied, giving us a chance to sneak in and rescue Isabella. Chris gave the police chief a grateful nod and we dashed our way into the subway tunnel. Once inside, we were able to easily sneak into the garage of the police station because most of the SAF soldiers had moved to protect the front of the station. Chris and I only encountered minor resistance, putting them down quickly. When we reached the main floor of the police station, we could hear the wild sputtering of gunfire. As we headed up to the higher levels in search of Isabella, I spied Phil and his fighters breaching the lobby.

It was surprisingly calm on the third floor, we had met no one on our march up the two flights of stairs. It seemed the police officers and Phil’s group were keeping the Reds occupied. We walked past a large office space, searching for Isabella but to no avail. Then we heard a commotion coming from a conference room, we could hear a Russian accent echoing through the area. He must have been interrogating Isabella. Chris motioned with his hand for me to stand near the conference room door. He approached another door that was further down the hall. Counting down with his fingers, we breached the room together and opened fire. I was able to kill a soldier that was standing in front of me while Chris took down two others. A man who appeared to be an SAF officer drew his pistol but Isabella, still tied to a chair, charged straight into his side. They fell in a heap on the floor and Chris quickly dispatched of the Red. As he untied Isabella and helped her off the ground, I grabbed the officer’s gun and handed it to her. She was suspicious about us, but all Chris said was that we were working with Phil and that he was still fighting on the lower levels.

Isabella motioned for us to follow her to the roof, she said that we were going to send Mother Russia a strong message about what we thought of them. When we arrived on the roof of the building, there were only a handful of Reds standing guard. We eliminated them easily before Isabella ran towards the front of the building. At first, I thought she was going to jump but then I realized she was heading towards the flag pole. She quickly lowered the red banner that was placed there and motioned for Chris to look around for the original flag. He did and found the Stars and Stripes crumpled up behind an air conditioning unit. He went to hand it to her but she told him to do the honors. Chris nodded and hoisted the American flag high above the police station, signaling to all that we had taken it back from Soviet hands.

Location: Brooklyn Rebel Base
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2003

After the dust had settled, we left the police officers who were once again in control of their station. We all needed time to rest and Isabella wanted a debriefing from Phil concerning the events that had happened up until this point. We took shelter in the Brooklyn Rebel Base and while we rested, Phil recounted to Isabella everything that had happened from the invasion up until her rescue. She was still suspicious of Chris and me but Phil reassured her that we were both people that could be relied on. After almost an hour of debriefing Isabella, Chris was becoming visibly anxious. Phil understood why and was the one that approached Isabella with the prospect of rescuing Troy from the Brooklyn Post Office.

After some consideration, Isabella told Chris that he would have the support of the Resistance and that she wanted him to become an official member in the fight for freedom. Isabella had seen Chris’ skill in battle with her own eyes. He wasn’t just a good shot, but a calm and capable fighter who could make the tough decisions quickly. The assault on the Brooklyn Police Station was more than enough proof that he deserved their trust. It only took Chris a moment to decide; he held out his hand to Isabella and proudly accepted her offer with a shake of hands. Phil told me that I was welcomed too, they could use the bodies. Isabella added that my firsthand account of the invasion and our fight against the SAF would be vital in the preservation of our history. Chris too chimed in, stating that he appreciated my support up until now and hoped that I would continue to offer it to him. That was when I realized Chris was much more than a good fighter; he had the makings of becoming a great leader. Thus, we entered a new chapter in our lives, as freedom fighters with the Manhattan Resistance.
Location: Brooklyn Post Office
Date: Saturday, June 21st, 2003

Isabella led us to an abandoned office building, not far from the Brooklyn Post Office. The streets were too dangerous to travel so she recommended that we snake our way through the alleys that would eventually lead us to our destination. Isabella said that she and a few of the freedom fighters would return to the Manhattan Rebel Base and attempt to contact Mr. Jones and the others still fighting there. Phil was going to take the remaining resistance members and fight the Reds. His strategy was to ambush them at various points around the post office, before retreating and attacking them from a different location. He hoped this would keep the SAF off balance and allow Chris to sneak in to rescue Troy. As Chris and I prepared to exit the office building, two freedom fighters approached us. Billy Hurst and Miguel Bishop had both witnessed Chris’ heroics during the rescue of Isabella and volunteered to assist Chris with our current mission. With the blessing of Isabella, they joined us as we left the office building.

It was already dark when we started our mission to rescue Chris’ brother. The four of us were able to easily sneak through the alleys and weave our way closer to the post office, that is, until we reached a construction lot. The large, spacious lot was filled with pylons, debris, and SAF troops. The Reds had mounted guns on top of the shipping containers that dotted the area and turned the concrete beams into makeshift barricades. There was no way around the construction lot except to traverse the highly patrolled streets. Chris quickly surveyed the area and mapped out a plan for us. He was going to scale one of the containers and lay down covering fire so Billy and Miguel could move up and take cover near a couple of large pylons. I was going to stay on the ground and provide support, making sure that no one snuck up on us before everyone got into position.

Miguel boosted Chris on top of the container and Chris quickly hid behind a few metal beams that were lying on the container. He motioned for Billy and Miguel to move forward and they did just that, as stealthily as they could. I kept my eyes wide open, the first sign that any of us were spotted; I was to fire as many bullets as I could at the Reds. Things were going smoothly until Billy leaned against a pile of pipes, knocking them to the ground. Their loud clatter put every soldier on high alert. Chris and I opened fire as the Reds scrambled to take cover. Billy was in trouble, pinned down by enemy fire and nothing to shield himself from the bullets that were constantly flying at him. Chris looked at me and I nodded, I knew what his plan was. He provided cover fire as I sprinted from pylon to palette, sliding and dashing my way across the construction lot. I did everything I could to reach cover before running again, towards a new spot to find safety. I couldn’t reach Billy but I could flank the soldiers who had him pinned down. I finally reached my destination, a large stack of bricks across from Billy’s location. I was shocked to find I had made it across the gauntlet that was the battlefield, but I had no time to think about it. I steadied my aim and opened fire, knocking one Red to the ground. The other two that were near him, turned their attention to me. As I ducked back down, Billy was able to take out the other two Reds and get to better cover. By this time though, Chris and Miguel had eliminated the rest of the SAF in the area. We had survived our first true battle as members of the Manhattan Resistance.

When we finally reached the post office, we could hear Phil and his group fighting nearby. The plan had worked; most of the guards were off fighting Phil, leaving the post office poorly defended. We killed two guards as we busted down the double doors of the post office. Once inside, it was a run-and-gun sort of affair. The corridors of the back offices were too narrow for us to traverse together so Chris sent Billy and Miguel down one floor as he and I searched another. Once we cleared the first floor of Reds, we heard Billy and Miguel call out to us. We raced up the flight of stairs and found them on the second floor coming under fire from a heavily armored soldier. Chris took out his pistol and fired a bullet right at the Red’s head, hitting his target with deadly accuracy. In the room behind the dead soldier, we found Troy tied up and bloody. He was ecstatic and surprised to see his brother but we had no time for a happy reunion. By this time, Phil had joined our attack on the post office and had cleared out the remaining SAF. I pulled out an American flag from my pack and handed it to Chris. He gave me a skeptical glance but I told him that Isabella had ordered it and that it had become a tradition for him to raise the flag. Troy, as battered as he was, followed the four of us to the roof. Chris lowered the Soviet flag and raised the Stars and Stripes, announcing to the rest of the SAF that we were now in control of the Brooklyn Post Office.

Location: Brooklyn Rebel Base
Date: Saturday, June 21st, 2003

We all met back at the Brooklyn Rebel Base. Troy was able to get medical aid and the others were able to eat and rest. Phil and his fighters also returned with us, though he did lose two people in the fighting. We were only going to spend a night at this base before returning to Manhattan to find Isabella, Mr. Jones, and the other Manhattan Resistance members. Miguel spent a few minutes fiddling with a shoddy TV until he finally got a signal. Of course it was Tatiana Kempinski of the SAFN; that was the only channel in America now. She was denouncing the “rebel attacks” on the good officers who were protecting the Brooklyn Police Station and Brooklyn Post Office. She even went as far as to declare that we blew up the gas station to stop citizens from getting fuel. Soon, General Tatarin was on the screen, reporting that there were many innocent casualties in the attacks. He even called us out by name, stating that Chris Stone and Isabella Angelina were the leaders of the terrorist group that was wreaking havoc across the city. Then the screen cut to pictures of the Soviet Armed Forces rounding up civilians and offering them aid. A new voice spoke through the speakers, General Bulba, the leader of the KGB. He officially named Chris Stone a terrorist, enemy of the state, and a murderer of innocent people. Bulba promised the people that this “Freedom Phantom” would be brought to justice. Everyone in the base turned to Chris in surprise with this news. Phil just laughed and told him that “Freedom Phantom” was a catchy nickname.

August 22, 2014

The Thief in the Snow - Entry IX: Home
The Thief in the Snow
Entry IX: Home
Location: Whiterun Plains, Whiterun Hold
Date: Turdas, 21st of Last Seed, 4E 201

Maybe I should have left for High Hrothgar right away but I needed rest, food, and money first. The sun was just rising over the distant mountains when I decided to put my skills to use, hunting for local game in the plains outside of Whiterun. Hills rolled across the vast land in every direction and the weather was mild. I explored the farms to the southeast, the same farms I had seen when I first traveled to Whiterun. I followed the eastern wall of Whiterun north to the Whitewatch Tower. The three Guards stationed there were being attacked by Bandits and I lent them my bow. The Bandits were overwhelmed quickly and the Guards thanked me for my help. They even saluted me as Thane of Whiterun but I could only give an uncomfortable nod in return. I did not think I would ever get used to this kind of treatment. Being discriminated, yes, but this adoration and support? It was a foreign concept that was hard for me to comprehend.

As I continued north, I stumbled across a bandit den hidden in the crevices of the great stones that formed the north wall of Dragonsreach. I dispatched the two Bandits swiftly and searched the den for any valuables. I found four bottles and a note which stated the Bandits were smuggling Skooma, a highly addictive drug that was created from Moon Sugar. I examined the bottles closely, yes this was Skooma. Moon Sugar was a common commodity in Elsweyr and a staple in the Khajiit diet. By combining Moon Sugar and Nightshade, a plant found locally across Tamriel, one could make the crystalline solid; Skooma. Inducing bouts of euphoria and lethargy when smoked, Skooma was dangerous and its use could result in death. While Khajiit tended to have a high tolerance for the drug, there were cases of ‘Sugar Tooths,’ Khajiit who would sell anything and everything for one more hit of the intoxicating substance. Because of the high demand, Skooma and to a lesser extent, Moon Sugar and Nightshade were popular commodities the Caravans carried across Tamriel. Skooma was another reason why people hated the Khajiit. If we were not thieves or bandits, we were drug makers and dealers. I despised Skooma and the trading of it; I tucked the note away and vowed to end this smuggling myself.

I trekked west and uncovered the body of a Witch. I began searching for what had slain this person when I noticed the stench of burning grass. I whipped around just in time to dodge a blast of fire. I had stumbled upon a Flame Atronach, a type of Daedra that used fire magic to burn its foes to death. Daedra were supernatural entities that occupied the Planes of Oblivion. On certain occasions, the Daedra could manifest themselves within the mortal plane of Mundus, the plane that the planet Nirn and the continent of Tamriel inhabited. They were fierce creatures that were not to be taken lightly. I fought with all my might, besting the Atronach and escaping its fiery demise just in time.

I continued exploring the Whiterun Plains, marching east towards a giant camp I had heard the Dragonsreach guards talking about previously. These camps were scattered across Skyrim, homes to the Giants who tended to their herds of Mammoths. While generally peaceful, Giants were known to turn violent when something threatened their herd. I had heard tales of these two colossal creatures and wanted to see them up close for myself. As I sneaked near Bleakwind Basin, I could see the giant wooly creatures grazing on the plains. Mammoths, their tusks were longer than I was tall and they possessed muscular trunks. I could only imagine how much gold a Mammoth Tusk was worth but I would have to wait a little longer since I knew I could not dispatch one of these great beasts… yet. The Giants were nothing to scoff at either; their massive clubs would crush my bones into powder. No one knew why the Giants conducted little interaction with the other residents of Skyrim, as long as their herds were secure, they kept to themselves.

I was northwest of Whiterun now and turned my attention to hunting the wild Deer and Elk that dotted the plains. I was able to chase down five but a sixth escaped the arrows I fired at it. I also collected various flowers including the white Tundra Cotton. The flowers covered the vast plains like weeds, sprouting up anywhere they could find the room to grow. I spotted a few Monarch Butterflies near an estuary of the White River. I jumped to catch one but missed and began chasing it around the small stream until I finally clutched it in my paws. I glanced around, embarrassed, I hoped there was no one to witness my escapades with the butterfly. Imagine what the Whiterun guards would think seeing a ‘cat’ chasing butterflies across the plains. That was enough ingredients collecting for me; I planned to use these ingredients at the Alchemy Lab in Arcadia’s Cauldron to make potions to sell.

I rambled farther west and then south, stumbling on a vein of Iron which I mined in hopes of turning the ore into Ingots to use later at a forge. I followed another stream south, slaughtering a couple of Mudcrabs that attacked me from the banks. As I neared the Western Watchtower, I discovered an abandoned house that was partially destroyed. It was a strange sight to see in the almost pristine Whiterun Plains. I wondered what had happened here but with no clues to follow, I continued my journey south. I located another giant camp, Secunda’s Kiss, before turning back to the Western Watchtower. I checked in with the Guards posted there, asking if there was anything of note to report after the Dragon had been slain. There was no news, just construction as they worked to rebuild the tower. They appreciated a visit from the ‘Dragonborn,’ I denied that I was this person, but they thanked me all the same.
Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Turdas, 21st of Last Seed, 4E 201

As I returned to Whiterun, the Guards manning the main gate greeted me, “Citizen.”

What a change of attitude from when I first arrived here. ‘What was the phrase again?’ I asked myself. ‘I have got my eyes on you.’ Once inside the city walls, I went directly to the local blacksmith, Warmaiden’s, and spoke to the owner. Adrianne Avenicci welcomed me with kindness in her voice. ‘Avenicci? Why did that name sound familiar?’ I requested the use of her facilities and she said she would allow it if I did something for her first. She had been working on her masterpiece and wanted it delivered to her father. It was a gift for the Jarl and she stated that her father could make sure the Jarl received the gift. ‘That is it!’ I realized she was Proventus Avenicci’s daughter, the same Avenicci that had mocked Hrongar’s Nord history. I told her that I would gladly the deliver her gift to her father.

On my way to Dragonsreach, a few of the local children came to talk to me. I am not sure which was more novel to them. The fact I was a Khajiit, I was the so-called Dragonborn, or that I was Thane of Whiterun. Maybe it was all three. One of the boys, Lars Battle-Born, told me how the other children picked on him, especially Braith. I told him I would talk to her and see if I could get her and other children to stop.

I delivered Adrianne’s gift to her father and talked to Avenicci about the history of Whiterun. The Imperial’s face lit up as he told me about the founding of Whiterun and the three districts. The Plains District where the shops were, the Wind District where most of the citizens lived, and Dragonsreach where we were located now. I returned to Adrianne and she thanked me for my service and welcomed me to Warmaiden’s. I fashioned a few iron weapons from the ore I had mined previously and then sold my wares to Adrianne. If I wanted to buy a house in Whiterun, I would need five thousand gold Septims and the gold I earned from Adrianne brought me within a thousand Septims of that goal.

I went to Arcadia’s Cauldron next and crafted potions from the flowers and butterfly wings I had collected from the Whiterun Plains. As I sold my potions, I found out Arcadia was an Imperial from Cyrodiil but had been living in Skyrim for quite some time. I realized this must be why she was not bothered by a Khajiit when we met for the first time. She called me friend and gave me a Steel War Axe as a proper thank you for delivering the Frost Salts from Farengar. Only one hundred more gold needed and I could buy a house.

Outside of Arcadia’s Cauldron, in the main square of the Plains District, I could hear angry voices shouting at each other. I could only assume that these were the infamous Battle-Borns and Gray-Manes I had been hearing so much about. They were both original families of Whiterun but held opposing opinions on Skyrim’s Civil War. The Gray-Mane Clan supported the Stormcloaks while the Battle-Born Family was deeply loyal to the Empire. This generational feud was something I wanted to avoid getting in the middle of so I quickly trotted in a different direction.

I saw a few of the local children playing by the town well and called out to see which one was Braith. As she approached me, I asked her to stop bullying Lars, stating that I was his bodyguard now and she would have to deal with me if he was hurt again. I was surprised when she blurted out that she would not have to bully Lars if he only would kiss her. I chuckled as she ran off with the other children.

It was evening when I reached my next stop, the Bannered Mare, Whiterun’s local inn. I met Hulda, the Nord innkeeper, who was nice and inviting. Brenuin was there, I found out that while he was Lucia’s ‘mentor’ he was also the town drunk. I saw a Nord warrior sitting at a table at the end of the inn. As I approached, she challenged me to a friendly bare-handed brawl, only cost a bet of 100 gold. That was exactly how much I needed to buy a house in Whiterun so I obliged and the fight commenced, much to the joy of the other patrons. My claws were no match for her fists and I defeated her easily. As she returned to her feet, she introduced herself as Uthgerd the Unbroken and invited me to share a drink with her. She enjoyed our brawl very much and told me that was one of the best fights she had had in a long time. As we drank together, Uthgerd related her story of how she tried to join the Companions but was rejected. She gave me the hundred gold Septims I had won and pledged her loyalty to me. Uthgerd stated that all I had to do was call and she would be there to fight by my side.

As I left Uthgerd’s table, I saw the red-haired woman again. She was sitting alone at a table and eating a meal.

“Excuse me,” I stammered as I approached her table, “Dar’Raza wishes to formally apologize for bumping into this one a few days ago on the steps of Dragonsreach.”

She motioned for me to sit down and introduced herself, “My name is Ysolda, it is nice to meet you Dar’Raza. There is no reason to apologize, it was an accident, it happens.”

As I sat down, I inquired, “So what does this one do in Whiterun?”

“Before my ma and da passed,” she replied sadly, “I told them that one day, I would become the best trader in Skyrim. I met one of the Caravan leaders, Ma’dran. He said he would help get me started if I could bring him a Mammoth Tusk. Easier said than done.”

“Dar’Raza would gladly help you procuring one.” I offered with a smile.

“You would do that?” Ysolda quizzed in a gleeful voice. “If you find one, I could teach you a thing or two about trading. Help you get a fair bargain in the future.”

I grinned, “That would come in useful.” Then I realized it was getting late and I was keeping Ysolda from her meal, “Dar’Raza will leave this one for the night. Many thanks for the conversation.”

As I got up from the table, she waved goodbye, “Until next time.”

I started to leave the Bannered Mare but I saw Lucia sitting by the fireplace. I asked her what she was doing there and she informed me that she stayed by the fireplace as long as possible before she went to sleep near the Temple of Kynareth. I motioned to Hulda and bought the girl a meal before exiting the inn. It was the least I could do for the orphan. Lucia was a kind girl and deserved better than this. ‘There must be someplace she could go?’ I thought to myself.
Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Fredas, 22nd of Last Seed, 4E 201

The next morning I spoke to Proventus Avenicci about buying a house in Whiterun. The sun had barely risen but the faithful steward was already hard at work. I had saved up five thousand Septims, enough to buy a house in the Plains District of Whiterun. After counting the coins, Avenicci handed me a key and welcomed me to Whiterun. Lydia accompanied me to my new home; after all, she would be living in the spare bedroom. She was tasked with protecting my belongings while I was away so it made sense to have her stay there.

I arrived at my very first home, Breezehome. It was a small house located next to Warmaiden’s. ‘Perfect location for any late night smithing I might do.’ I thought as I opened the door. As I entered I saw a fire pit and cooking pot were already installed. I had paid Avenicci extra gold to furnish the kitchen and hoped that I would be able to buy more furnishings soon. To the left of the door stood a table with two chairs, and to the right, a bookcase with a few cloth storage sacks. There was a rack hanging above the fire pit where I could hang herbs to dry.

Next to the stairs, there was enough space for a dining table yet old boxes and crates occupied the area at the moment. There was also a little room tucked underneath the stairs, it might do as a study once I cleaned it of the dust and the hay. Up the stairs and to the left was a small room, furnished simply. I asked Lydia if the room would be adequate for her, since it was far from the splendor of Dragonsreach, but she replied that it would suit her just fine. Across from her room was a small nook with enough space for a few storage chests. Turning around, I saw what would have been the master bedroom. Instead, it looked more like an attic filled with forgotten junk. There was a very old bed at least, it would do for now.

After I took a few moments to enjoy my new home, I pulled out the letter the Courier had delivered to me when I returned from the Western Watchtower. ‘Letter from a Friend,’ it began.
‘Dar’Raza, You caused a bit of stir in Western Watchtower when you demonstrated the power of your Thu’um. Not everyone is anxious for the return of the Dragonborn.

I for one desire to see you grow and develop your talents. Skyrim needs a true hero these days.’
It was unsigned. I was not sure what the letter intended. Was it a warning, maybe a threat? I could not tell how sincere this ‘friend’s’ desire to see me develop my talents was. I knew I should have traveled to High Hrothgar straightaway but I felt compelled to seek out my friend, Hadvar, in Solitude to his gain his insight on the entire matter. I still did not believe that I was this ‘Dragonborn’ everyone claimed I was. Irileth was skeptical of the story yet Jarl Balgruuf believed it fully. What I knew without a doubt was that I did possess some kind of power and I displayed that power at the Western Watchtower. My mind was made up; I would seek Hadvar for his advice before I decided on my next course of action. I told Lydia to keep an eye on everything while I was away, I had no idea how long I would be gone for. I gathered supplies for the long journey and set out towards Solitude, the heart of the Empire in Skyrim.

July 19, 2014

Worth Fighting For - Entry I: The Battle for Liberty Island Begins
Worth Fighting For
Entry I: The Battle for Liberty Island Begins
Location: Midtown Manhattan
Date: June 17th, 2003

I don’t know if anyone will ever read this. Heck, I’m not sure if there’s going to be anyone left to read this but I feel I need to do something. It may sound stupid but I feel like it’s my duty to document what could be the final months of the United States of America. My name is Timothy Murphy and a week ago I was a writer for the Manhattan Herald. Today… today I’m a member of the Manhattan Resistance, documenting the courageous acts of the Freedom Phantom and his comrades. But first, I should start from the beginning, before the battle for Liberty Island began.

In 1945 the Soviet Air Force dropped the atomic bomb on Berlin, ending World War II and freeing the world from the shackles of Nazi rule. Little did we know, we removed one pair of shackles and replaced them with another. By 1953, the Soviet Union firmly controlled most of Europe with its creation of the Communist Block, a union of all European states. Britain was the last independent holdout but eventually succumbed to the pressure and joined the Communist Block, signaling the fall of a free Europe. The U.S. protested the expansion of Soviet power but failed when mid-range nuclear missiles were transported to Cuba in 1961.

The next decade saw swift military expansion from the Reds. In 1976, the Soviet Armed Forces sent thousands of “advisors” to Guatemala and Honduras, creating communist states in South America. The threat was brought to our backyard when in 1996; Mexico elected its first president from the Mexican Communist Party. Then in 2001 a failed assassination attempt on our president became the first direct action from Russia. Though it was never proven that the SAF was behind it, an unnamed foreign power was implicated in the assassination plot. 2003 changed the face of America forever with sightings of low-flying drones all across the country. The government quickly dismissed them as weather balloons and tried to quell the panic that was growing nationwide. And then it happened, on a muggy day in June, the world I knew ceased to exist.

I was in Midtown Manhattan that day trying to track down Isabella Angelina, the leader of the Warning Against Reds! campaign. She and others like her actively tried to prepare people for the impending Soviet invasion. The government dismissed her claims and New Yorkers thought she was a terrorist but I believed she was right. The Soviet Union had been expanding their power and I knew it wouldn’t stop until the entire world was covered in red. I had arrived at Isabella’s apartment only to find it empty. As I was leaving, I ran into two men from Plumbers on Patrol. Who would have thought that these two plumbers would become key members in the fight for freedom.

As I walked down the stairs of the apartment complex, I felt a sudden jolt and heard an explosion. I couldn’t comprehend what it was until I looked out a window and saw the street engulfed in flames. A military helicopter was firing missiles into buildings and I saw soldiers pouring into the streets from every direction. Screams and smoke rose into the air as I tried to wrap my head around what was happening. There was an abrupt crash from the lobby and I heard the thunder of military boots charging up the stairs. I quickly opened the window, jumped out onto the fire escape, and crouched down just in time to hear the soldiers rushing past.

The plumbers weren’t as lucky, I could hear an angry man scream at them, demanding to know where Isabella Angelina was. There was a commotion and then gunfire erupted from the apartment. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what had happened. I bolted down the fire escape and into the alley below. My first thought was to try and make it to the police station a few blocks away but once I hit the street, I knew that would be impossible. Cars were burning in the middle of the street and people were running in every direction. I saw a truck try to drive right through a crowd of people, running over a woman and flinging a child into the air. Small units of armed soldiers were going from building to building, capturing everyone they could find. I decided to make a run for it and as I made my way down the street, I felt the swift wind of a helicopter landing on the apartment complex.

It was chaos. I saw a police officer and I tried to get his attention but he was running for his life like everyone else. The few police who did try to fight back were quickly gunned down by the superior Soviet Armed Forces. Yes, while running down the street, I was able to finally get a better look at the uniforms of the soldiers. They were SAF, Russians. The Soviet Union had finally sent an invasion force. A small SAF unit was heading my direction so I quickly sprinted down an alley and tried to hide but I only found myself facing three Reds. As I was raising my arms to surrender, a sudden flash of heat hit me. I hadn’t realized I closed my eyes until I heard the screaming and opened them to see the three SAF soldiers set ablaze. An older man, a man in a baseball cap, and a plumber jumped down from the roof of a car port and approached me. I recognized the plumber as one of the two I had run into back at Isabella’s apartment. I didn’t see the other plumber with them as the three men approached me. I tried to find my voice but I didn’t get a chance to say anything as the older man and the plumber ran past me towards the street. The man with the baseball cap grabbed my arm and hauled my body towards a manhole. He barked out orders for me to help him lift it up and then shoved me down into the sewers. I was too stunned to question him and did what I was told.
Location: Manhattan Rebel Base
Date: Tuesday, June 17th, 2003

Once inside, there was an eerie quietness that was only broken with an occasional muffled explosion sounding in the distance. The man in the baseball cap introduced himself as Phil Bagzton and questioned why I had been at Isabella Angelina’s apartment. At first I didn’t know what he was talking about, I had completely forgotten about what I was doing before the attack. Then I remembered why I had sought her out and explained that I wanted to interview her and spread Warning Against Reds! message about the Soviet Union. He was still skeptical of me until I told him my name, which he recognized from my previous newspaper articles about the inevitable Red invasion.

Phil informed me that Warning Against Reds! was just a front and that he and Isabella were actually members of the Manhattan Resistance, a group of dedicated men and women prepared to fight the Soviet invasion when the time came. He shook his head and muttered to himself that everything they had been preparing for had finally happened. After he collected his thoughts, he explained to me that the sewer beneath the city was their base of operations. From here, they could easily access any part of the city with the network of manholes that existed around the area. I asked him about the other two men he was with. The older man, Mr. Jones, was a key advisor to Isabella. The plumber was Chris Stone and he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Phil wasn’t sure but it sounded like Chris’ brother, Troy, was taken to the apartment building roof and transported by helicopter to some unknown destination. I recalled seeing a helicopter landing on the roof when I was escaping through the alley below. While he didn’t know Chris, Phil told me that Chris stopped to save him from a pair of Reds before they all met me in the alley.

We rested a bit at a central hub in the sewer, the “base of operations” as Phil called it. The base was simple but they were well equipped with food, weapons, beds, and they even had a working TV. It wasn’t long until more Manhattan Resistance members started to appear. Finally Mr. Jones and Chris Stone made it back. We learned from them that Isabella had been captured and they confirmed that Troy Stone was taken by the Reds as well. While Mr. Jones and Phil tried to regroup and figure out a way to rescue Isabella, Chris only cared about getting his brother back. Phil wasn’t having any of that, after all Chris and I were the only outsiders there. Phil and Chris started to argue about why they should help each other when another member quickly told everyone to quiet down and listen to the TV.

An image began to flicker on the screen until it became clearer. The logo of “SAFN” flashed across the screen and a blonde woman with a distinctly Russian accent began to speak. She introduced herself as Tatiana Kempinski and began to inform us of how the Soviet Armed Forces had come to free us from the troubled U.S. Government and our corrupt leaders. She told us that we were poor Americans that had been liberated by the Soviet Union and all we had to do was swear allegiance to Mother Russia.

A new image flashed across the screen of an intimidating man named General Tatarin. He spoke of how anyone who resisted would be sent for “retraining” at special facilities in Alaska. It took me a moment to realize that I recognized his voice. He was the one that was looking for Isabella at her apartment. I wasn’t the only one who recognized him as I saw Chris seeth at his image. After all, it was this man who captured Chris’ brother, Troy.

After the broadcast was over, everyone was silent for a spell until Chris spoke up. He told Mr. Jones and Phil that he would do what he could to help them rescue Isabella since she was the leader of the Manhattan Resistance and in return, they would help him rescue Troy. Phil promised they would find Troy and any other civilians captured too. Phil then turned to me and told me that it wasn’t my fight and that I could leave. With everything that had happened and everything that I had seen, there was no backing out now. I didn’t know how to use a gun but I knew this city like the back of my hand. If anything, I knew I must stay to document the courageous efforts of the Manhattan Resistance. But most of all, I knew freedom was something worth fighting for.

June 1, 2014

The Thief in the Snow - Entry VIII: Thief or Thane
The Thief in the Snow
Entry VIII: Thief or Thane
Location: Whiterun, Whiterun Hold
Date: Turdas, 21st of Last Seed, 4E 201

As I marched into Whiterun, the ground shook and a loud din filled the air. I could have sworn that I heard someone shouting, calling out to ‘Dovahkiin’ but as quickly as the voice sounded, it disappeared. A Courier sprinted up to me and handed me a letter, all while he stared at the sky. I thanked him and he ran off, still staring towards the mountains in the distance, had the voice come from high atop the mountain? I would read the letter later, I had to speak with Jarl Balgruuf. A Guard advanced towards me and I thought he had mistaken me for one of the Khajiit traders and was going to throw me out of the city.

Instead he declared, “By Ysmir, you did it. You killed a Dragon.”

Another Guard added, “There has been talk amongst the guards. That you are…” he stared at me as he uttered the words, “Dragonborn. But such a thing… surely that is not possible…”

I could only shrug as I sauntered up the hill towards Whiterun. As I did, I passed two strangers conversing with a guard. They looked like Redguard, dark skinned Humans from the desert lands of Hammerfell. I had heard it said that Hammerfell was much like Elsweyr though I had never seen the land personally. The guard was ordering them to leave, I did not know for what reason, I was curious and wanted to talk to the strangers but knew the news I carried must reach Jarl Balgruuf. It was very early in the morning when I reached the steps of Dragonsreach. I spied Lucia sleeping underneath the large tree outside of the Temple of Kynareth. ‘Had she slept there all night?’ I pondered to myself. There was nothing I could do, so I left her there and sprinted up the stairs to Dragonsreach.

As I entered the main hall, Proventus Avenicci came rushing up to me, “Good. You are finally here. The Jarl has been waiting for you.”

I nodded and approached the throne of Jarl Balgruuf. He was speaking to a very tall and very muscular Nord warrior.

“You heard the summons.” the Jarl commented, “What else could it mean? The Greybeards…”

The Nord warrior noticed me, “We were just talking about you. My brother needs a word with you.”

‘Brother?’ I thought, this must be Hrongar, Balgruuf’s younger brother. I had heard the guards mention him by name. He was known to be a gifted fighter, a loyal brother, and very dedicated to the Nordic traditions.

Balgruuf leaned forward in his throne and addressed me, “So what happened at the watchtower? Was the Dragon there?”

“The watchtower was destroyed but Irileth, the Guards, and Dar’Raza killed the Dragon.” I reported.

“I knew I could count on Irileth.” the Jarl declared with elation. “But there must be more to it than that.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “When the Dragon died, Dar’Raza… Dar’Raza, absorbed some kind of power from it?”

I had not intended the statement to come out as a question but I could not suspend my disbelief at the notion that I was this ‘Dragonborn’ the guards kept gossiping about.

The reaction I received from Balgruuf astonished me, “So it is true.” He put his hand to his face as he pondered to himself. “The Greybeards really were summoning you.”

I could not believe the Jarl, this man I had come to know as being wise and just, believed this legend to be true.

“The Greybeards?” I echoed.

“Masters of the Way of the Voice.” he answered. “They live in seclusion high on the slopes of the Throat of the World.”

I inquired further, “What do the Greybeards want with Dar’Raza?”

“The Dragonborn is said to be uniquely gifted in the Voice, the ability to focus your vital essence into a Thu’um, or Shout.” Jarl Balgruuf leaned forward as if he was examining me. “If you really are Dragonborn, they can teach you how to use your gift.”

Hrongar joined in the conversation, “Did you not hear the thundering sound as you returned to Whiterun?”

I nodded silently.

“That was the voice of the Greybeards,” Hrongar continued. “Summoning you to High Hrothgar! This has not happened in… centuries, at least. Not since Tiber Septim himself was summoned when he was still Talos of Atmora!”

Avenicci interjected, “Hrongar, calm yourself. What does any of this Nord nonsense have to do with our friend here? Capable as he may be,” the gaze Proventus cast in my direction made me think he did not believe what he was saying. “I do not see any signs of him being this, what, ‘Dragonborn.’”

Hrongar was offended, “Nord nonsense?! Why you puffed-up ignorant—”

I let out a chuckle and Avenicci shot me a glance of disdain.

“These are our sacred traditions that go back to the founding of the First Empire!” Hrongar rebuked.

Jarl Balgruuf stepped in, “Hrongar. Do not be so hard on Avenicci.

“I meant no disrespect, of course.” Avenicci stated without a single hint of humility. “It is just that… what do these Greybeards want with him?”

“That is the Greybeards’ business,” answered Balgruuf, “Not ours.” The Jarl turned his attention back to me, “Whatever happened when you killed that Dragon, it revealed something in you, and the Greybeards heard it. If they think you are Dragonborn, who are we to argue? You had better get up to High Hrothgar immediately. There is no refusing the summons of the Greybeards. It is a tremendous honor. I envy you, you know.” He leaned back in his throne and began to speak in a reverent tone, “To climb the Seven Thousand Steps again… I made the pilgrimage once, did you know that? High Hrothgar is a very peaceful place. Very… disconnected from the troubles of this world. I wonder that the Greybeards even notice what is going on down here. They have not seemed to care before. No matter, Go to High Hrothgar. Learn what the Greybeards can teach you.”

Before the Jarl let me go he had one last thing to say to me.

“I thank you for your service. By my right as Jarl,” Balgruuf declared, “I name you Thane of Whiterun. It is the greatest honor that is within my power to grant. I assign you Lydia as a personal Housecarl, and this weapon from my armory to serve as your badge of office. I will also notify my guards of your new title. Would not want them to think you are part of the common rabble, now would we? We are honored to have you as thane of our city, Dragonborn.”

I could only stare in astonishment at the beautiful Axe of Whiterun I had been gifted. ‘Thane? What did this mean?’ I questioned in my mind. I was so stunned, all I could do was watch as Hrongar and Avenicci returned to their quarrelling with the Jarl stuck listening to the sparring match of words. Irileth had just arrived and escorted me out of the main hall, my mouth still gaping open at what had just taken place.

As I left, a Nord warrior approached. “The Jarl was appointed me to be your Housecarl. It is an honor to serve you.”

“Who is this one?” I queried.

The Nord answered, “I am Lydia, my Thane.”

I nodded uncomfortably. This turn of events was almost too much to bear.

“What exactly is a thane?” I asked Lydia as I tried to collect my thoughts.

“The Jarl has recognized you as a person of great importance in the hold. A hero.” she proclaimed. “The title of thane is an honor, a gift for your service.” With a slight smile, she added, “The guards will look the other way if you tell them who you are.”

She then inquired what my orders were for her. I had no idea what to do. ‘Thane? Hero?’ These were not words I was accustomed to hearing in reference to me. I asked her to stay put in Dragonsreach, I had ‘things’ to do. I awkwardly excused myself and rushed out of the palace. I had to get some air; I had to think of what to do next.

As I headed towards the main gates, I was stopped by the Redguard strangers I had seen upon entering the city a few hours ago. They asked me to pause for a spell and listen to their request. They were searching for a Redguard woman and could use my assistance in locating this individual. They would pay me of course, for any information I could offer. I told them I had other things to do but would look into the matter in due time. They thanked me and told me I could meet them in Rorikstead, a small village to the west of Whiterun, since they had been asked to leave the city.
Location: Whiterun Plains, Whiterun Hold
Date: Turdas, 21st of Last Seed, 4E 201

I found myself wandering outside the walls of Whiterun, towards the Khajiit Caravan. Ri’saad saw me approaching and waved me over. He asked how my experience was and I related not just what had happened during the night but everything from Helgen to my appointment as Thane of Whiterun. He expressed to me that this was a great opportunity to make a real difference in Skyrim and to change the way Khajiit were viewed in this winter land. I paused for a moment. Maybe Ri’saad was right, I knew the journey would be a harsh one to travel but it seemed like I may have a purpose here. I nodded in agreement and Ri’saad only laughed. Before I left the warmth of the Caravan, Ri’saad gave me a present, Moon Sugar, a little piece of home.

As I ventured down the stone road, I heard the Khajiit call after me, “May the sun warm this one’s path, friend.”