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.”