February 13, 2015

The Thief in the Snow - Entry XII: Reunion

The Thief in the Snow
Entry XII: Reunion
Location: Solitude, Haafingar
Date: Sundas, 24th of Last Seed, 4E 201

A large crowd had gathered to see Roggvir’s execution. From what I could discern from the shouts, many thought he was a traitor but a few supported his actions. This surprised me, Solitude was after all firmly aligned with the Empire and the governing heads of the Imperial Legion were housed at Castle Dour. General Tullius himself was here in Solitude, Commander of the Fourth Legion and Military Governor of Skyrim, he was the Empire in the Province. To openly state support for the Stormcloaks here was a bold move indeed.

I turned my attention back to the execution. An Imperial Captain was presiding over the event and a very large Redguard was the Headsman. After the Captain had finished reading Roggvir’s charge of treason, he allowed the imprisoned Nord to say his final peace. Roggvir proudly stated that he did nothing wrong. That Ulfric had challenged Torygg to single combat, won fairly, and it was his right that he be allowed to leave unharmed. With this the crowd erupted in shouts and cries.

“Traitor!” cried many citizens.

As the Headsman picked up his axe, Roggvir called out that his soul would find peace in Sovngarde. It took one swift swing of the axe and the deed was done. As the crowd dispersed I heard someone exclaim that while he was a traitor, his execution was too much. A little girl was sobbing as she was taken away by who I assumed was her father. He was trying to comfort her by stating that her uncle was in a better place now. Most were upset by the execution and I decided that it would be best to leave them all be. I headed to the Winking Skeever, the local tavern, and rented a room for the night.

Morning came quickly and I went downstairs to speak with the innkeeper about locating Hadvar. I had no desire to go to Castle Dour for fear that I would never leave. Downstairs I was greeted by Lisette, the tavern’s bard. She smiled at me warmly and made light conversation about the sights of Solitude, all while avoiding the topic of Roggvir’s execution. She complimented my voice and told me to seek out Viarmo at the Bards College right here in Solitude. He could teach me how to play an instrument and sing all the old songs. I laughed and thanked her for her advice with a few Septims before speaking with Corpulus Vinius, the innkeeper. Vinius informed me that Hadvar was out patrolling last night and should be returning shortly. Before I left the Winking Skeever, Vinius also related some other information to me. The College of Winterhold was looking for new students who wished to study magic. ‘Hmm… that is an idea.’ I thought to myself. He continued to warn me about a stranger who had been seen wandering the streets of Solitude. He also told me about someone named ‘Jaree-Ra’ who was looking for an able body to hire for a job. I would have been tempted to take the job but I knew the name was Argonian and I could never trust an Argonian. I thanked Vinius for the information and asked him to tell Hadvar to wait for me there if I had not returned before his arrival.

I strolled along the streets of Solitude towards the Blue Palace. I had heard it was a marvel to behold and wanted to see the home of the High King myself. While the position of High King was now empty due to the death of Torygg, his widow, Elisif the Fair was now Jarl of Solitude and interim High Queen of Skyrim. I had heard from the guards that she was quite inexperienced in ruling and that they feared she would be greatly under the control of General Tullius. Most of her courtly duties were accomplished by her steward, Falk Firebeard, as well as her two thanes. I reached the steps of the Blue Palace and was taken aback by the sheer size of the building. It easily eclipsed Dragonsreach with its grandiosity. Every inch of the building was ornately decorated and its walls seemed to go on and on. I could not even estimate how many rooms must be inside the palace. The Blue Palace was truly an awe inspiring sight.

As I walked back towards the Winking Skeever, I saw the stranger Vinius had warned me about. He was wandering the streets, muttering to himself and waving his arms about. He appeared quite lost and confused. I also witnessed two Guards removing the body of a Vampire Master. There were more bodies nearby, a guard and two Thralls. The Guards cursed the increase in Vampire activity and mentioned something about the ‘Dawnguard’ but they were too preoccupied to be bothered by me.

I walked around Solitude, talking to any of the locals who would speak to me. One of the local merchants, Evette San, asked me if I could try to use my position as Thane of Whiterun to convince the East Empire Company to release a shipment of Spiced Wine. Apparently, the Company was holding them on a false tariff charge that San could not afford. I agreed and sought out Vittoria Vici who managed the East Empire Company in Solitude. She was an Imperial noble and the cousin of Emperor Titus Mede II. When I approached her, she made it very clear that her position with East Empire Company had nothing to do with her relations but because of her hard work. I nodded and asked her about San’s Spiced Wine shipment. Vici demanded a thousand Septim tariff be paid but with my ‘honeyed words’ I was able to convince her to give me the shipment without paying. I walked back to San’s stall in the marketplace and gave the shipment to her. She was elated and thanked me with a few bottles of Spiced Wine for myself.

Next, I talked to Noster Eagle-Eye a wounded Legion veteran from the Great War who was now destitute. He related stories of his glory days and he even told me that he was at Anvil when the Aldmeri attacked. I knew the city well from my time in Cyrodiil and was quite familiar with the great battle that took place there. He also mentioned his beloved helmet which he lost in one of the nearby caves. I told him that when I had the time, I would find his helmet and return it to him. I gave him a few gold coins and he thanked me for my kindness, promising to share his knowledge of the wilderness with me when I returned his helmet.

I saw that little girl again, the one I thought was Roggvir’s niece. I tried to talk to her but she only remarked that she did not feel like speaking. I started to walk away and told her it was a shame she did not want to hear about the Dragon. She immediately perked up, asking if I had really seen one. I told her the tale of the Western Watchtower, much to her amazement. When I was done, she commented that I was not too bad for a stranger. She introduced herself as Svari and then made a comment about her mother Greta. I had been right, Svari was with her father, Addvar, at her Uncle Roggvir’s execution. Roggvir was the brother of her mother, Greta, who was too heartbroken to attend. Svari begged me to speak with her mother, she said that Greta had all but abandoned the Divines and refused to go to the temple. I was unsure what to say to the little girl so I agreed and went to visit her mother. I found Greta and told her that Svari was worried about her. She said that she would try to return to the Temple of the Divines but asked that I returned her brother’s Amulet of Talos. I nodded and left her before rolling my eyes. ‘Another errand for the cat’ I sighed to myself.

Roggvir’s body was entombed in the Solitude Catacombs, which I had to break into to so I could steal the Amulet back for Greta. I had been in my fair share of tombs and knew exactly what to look for, a fresh coffin. As I went from coffin to coffin, I noticed an odd moaning sound. I crouched down immediately and took out my bow. As I peered around a corner, I found a re-animated skeleton patrolling the catacombs. A single shot shattered the skeleton back into the lifeless pile of bones it should have been. I hurriedly searched for Roggvir’s Amulet, for fear of more skeletons re-animating. As soon as I found it, I bounded up the stairs and back into the daylight. Greta was overjoyed when I gave her the Amulet of Talos and Svari thanked me as well. Both welcomed me to their home any time I wanted to visit.

As I turned towards the Winking Skeever, I was approached by an Orsimer. It was the first Orc I had seen since entering Skyrim. To be polite, you could call them ‘ugly.’ Their greenish gray skin made them look fierce and the protruding tusk like teeth only added to the image. They also had harsh facial features, often with bone ridges visible under the skin. Known as fierce warriors, they were somewhat looked down on by Mer and Men alike. Though usually not recognized as such, Orcs were actually a variant of Elves, hence the name ‘Orsimer’ which meant ‘Pariah Ones.’ He told me his name was Durak and he had sought me out. Apparently the Dawnguard had been reformed by a Redguard named Isran. When I asked what the Dawnguard was, he told me it was an ancient order of Vampire Hunters. I laughed but he took offense. Durak informed me that a legion of Vampires were running rampant across Skyrim and he was tasked with recruiting me. I laughed again. ‘First Dragons and now Vampires?’ I questioned to myself. I told the Orc I would consider his proposal but that I had too much to do at that moment. I left him partially stunned, I think he expected me to go with him right away. Instead, I walked towards my meeting with Hadvar.

As I entered the Winking Skeever, Hadvar stood up from a table and gave me a big hug.

“Friend! What brings you to Solitude?” Hadvar asked as we both sat down at his table.

He motioned to Vinius to pour us two drinks as I answered, “This one will not believe what has happened to Dar’Raza this past…” I paused for a moment, thinking silently then continued, “Dar’Raza cannot believe it has only been a week since Helgen!”

Hadvar laughed and slapped me on the back, “I know what you mean! Things have been busy here with preparations for war, the execution of that traitor, and I am on constant patrol to make sure that Stormcloak Camp is not preparing for an attack.”

“Good,” I remarked with a nod, “Dar’Raza saw the camp when traveling from Morthal and was worried Legion might not know about it.”

“Do not worry, my friend. The Legion has its eyes and ears everywhere.” He said with a smile and gesturing with his fingers. “Speaking of which, I have heard a rumor that you are Dragonborn, a genuine Nord legend! Is it true?”

My shoulders slumped forward as I propped my head up with my paw, “Dar’Raza does not know what to think. Dar’Raza just killed a Dragon and then-”

“You killed a Dragon?!” Hadvar interrupted in a shocked tone.

I nodded and laughed, “Dar’Raza was not alone in slaying the beast. Irileth, Jarl Balgruuf’s Housecarl, and her men also fought the Dragon.” Hadvar gave me a sly look but I continued relating my tale, “So Dar’Raza is standing next to dead Dragon when suddenly bright light and a loud ‘swooshing’ sound begins to happen.” I made a circular motion with my paws. “Then ‘poof!’ Dar’Raza gets hit with energy and Guards start saying Dar’Raza is Dragonborn.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“You do not believe what they say?” Hadvar quizzed, “Can you Shout?”

I hesitated as I swirled the mead in my tankard. I shrugged again, “Maybe a little.”

“Ha!” Hadvar exclaimed as he slapped me on the back again. “So you are Dragonborn! What happened next, tell me every detail.”

“Eh, not much to tell.” I raised my arms. “Dar’Raza returned to Whiterun, heard someone calling from big mountain, received gratitude of Jarl, was appointed Thane of Whiterun, and was told that Greybeards had called Dar’Raza to High Hrothgar.”

“Wait.” he paused as he tried to process what I had just said. “You are a Thane of Whiterun?”

I shrugged again and nodded.

“So that is how you entered Solitude.” Hadvar remarked with a chuckle, “I thought you might have broken in.”

I gave him a playful scowl.

“And the Greybeards summoned you to High Hrothgar?” he continued, “That is quite an honor. I do not think this that has happened since Tiber Septim was summoned.”

I nodded again.

“Well, what did they say?” He questioned as he leaned on the table.

I gave him a shy smile, “Dar’Raza has not gone.”

Hadvar raised his arms in exasperation, “Why in Sovngarde not?!”

“Dar’Raza does not know what to do.” I answered embarrassed. “Dar’Raza is Khajiit not Nord, this one’s legends do not apply to Dar’Raza. And no Nord would want cat as their ancient hero. Dar’Raza is just big walking rug, not Dragonborn.”

Hadvar stayed quiet for a few moments before replying, “You are much more than just a Khajiit, my friend, you are a brave and capable warrior. You said so yourself, you defeated a Dragon. You have the gift of Shouting, if not for Skyrim, you owe it to yourself to seek out your true potential.”

I stared at my mead in shame. Hadvar was right, I was just being cowardly, avoiding the path before me. Ri’saad had told me that this could be a great opportunity to change the way the Nords viewed Khajiit. I had an obligation to not only help others like Alvor in Riverwood or those farmers from Karthwasten but to also help myself. This was a gift given to me and I might as well learn how to use it properly.

With a newly found resolve, I slammed my tankard on the table, “This one is right! Dar’Raza will go seek out the Greybeards on High Hrothgar!”

“That is the spirit, my friend!” Hadvar exclaimed with joy.

As we left the Winking Skeever, Hadvar gave me a finely crafted Imperial Bow, to serve me on my journey home. We said our farewells, I told him to stay safe, and he said the same. With a resolve I had not possessed before, I left Solitude and traveled home to meet my destiny at High Hrothgar.