510 Dragon Rising 2
As I approached Dragonsreach palace, I made sure that I don’t look like myself so I made my hair a bit blonder and my face less recognizable. A bit of an ordinary face on an ordinary height. The reason why I had to go through all that disguise was to achieve a certain goal in the long run supposedly the Fate I know unfolds the way I expect.
With this and that out of the way, I stood at the gate of Dragonsreach that was surprisingly lightly guarded. I would tell whoever tries to stop me that I am a messenger from Riverwood until I was let in the Jarl’s Hall.
The place was as large as I remembered, high ceilings and wooden pillars in a carefully lit environment and at its end, the important figures of Whiterun were in a deep discussion about the matter of a dragon’s sighting. My appearance caused the inner palace guard to be tense and I was approached by the Jarl’s personal bodyguard, Housecarl Irileth who was pointing her sword at me.
Irileth is a Dunmer and I remember her from my Fifth Labour when I was told to steal the [Ebony Blade] with the a.s.sistance of the Morag Tong cell hidden in Whiterun. That day, Irileth was revealed to be a former Morag Tong a.s.sa.s.sin who betrayed the Tong after being tasked to be the Keeper of the [Ebony Blade]. At some point in the past, she was saved from the Blade’s influence by Jarl Balgruuf on one of his travels and the blade was sealed in his palace. The Morag Tong cell that a.s.sisted me was annihilated by Irileth and I got away without breaking a sweat. Actually, I used the Morag Tong cell as a decoy and didn’t want to be bothered by them.
Back to reality, Irileth was facing me with a stern face.
“What’s the meaning of this interruption? Jarl Balgruuf is not receiving visitors.” She said.
“I came from Helgen. A Dragon destroyed it” I replied.
“You know about Helgen? The Jarl will want to speak to you personally. Approach.”
Irileth let my pa.s.s along the central fireplace and I was surrounded by Guards from all corners, it seemed a bit different from the game but I didn’t pay it much attention. Irileth whispered something to the Jarl and he directly looked at me.
“So. You were at Helgen? You saw this dragon with your own eyes?” He asked with a worried face.
Surrounding the Jarl were his close aides, the representatives of the Clans of Whiterun and some known warriors. All of these men became dead silent when the Jarl spoke about me witnessing a Dragon.
“Yes, Jarl Balgruuf.” I gave a short reply on purpose.
“Tell us what happened then! Don’t miss anything.” He demanded impatiently.
“Alright. It all starts when I was going to Helgen to meet an employer who wanted me to recover an artifact from an Ancient Barrow. The man was supposed to arrive a day earlier but he got late so I went on the road to try and see traces of him only to get captured by Imperial Soldiers south to Helgen…” I started with an important part of the background story I was working on.
“I’m not interested in all that! Tell me about the dragon and don’t waste my time.” Jarl Balgruuf shouted at me impatiently.
“Excuse me, Jarl Balgruuf, but this is related. You see, I wasn’t captured alone. I actually walked into a trap that was made to capture Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak.” I made this one point clear.
Jarl Balgruuf’s face became serious all of a sudden and the men around became noisy. Ulfric’s name brings a lot of trouble just by mentioning it these days.
“Silence!” Jarl Balgruuf shouted, “I should have guessed Ulfric would be mixed up in this. Keep going!”
“Jarl Ulfric and I were taken prisoners and shipped to Helgen for execution. Right before the death sentence and as the headsman’s axe started swinging, a flying large beast appeared above Helgen like the Wrath of G.o.d. It was all black and as it spread its wings, it covered the sky and blocked the sun then with a strange voice coming from that beast, the sky began burning and rained fire on our heads.”
I’ve got to say, my elaborate words made them men go pale. I wasn’t lying or anything but the way I put it and the voice I spoke in gave those men a chill in their bones.
“Last thing I saw was the Dragon flying towards Riverwood. The town there is safe but witnesses claim the Dragon went further to the north.” I finished my detailed report and threw the ball into Balgruuf’s side.
Depending on how I turned my words, things will unfold in many different ways that I can’t help but wonder how they will be.
“By Ysmir, Irileth was right!” The Jarl stood off his seat and all cleared the way for him as he walked to brood over the flames of the large central fireplace of his hall.
“We need to secure the hold, my Jarl.” Irileth spoke.
“We can’t start any big moves at the moment, my Jarl. This will pester the Imperial Legion.” Proventus, the Jarl’s steward, said.
“What do you think we should do then? Wait until the dragon sweeps us all?” Irileth shouted at Proventus.
“We should act carefully, rushing out for a Dragon Hunt is not justifiable to others.” Proventus replied.
“You Imperial fool, things won’t matter either way when the dragon descends on our heads.” Vignar Grey-Mane b.u.t.ted in.
“I think we should take action and inform the Imperials. Pacifying them is easy as the Dragon seems to be willing to show itself either way.” Olfrid Battle-Born said his opinion as well.
This was a typical argument in Whiterun’s court, the busiest court in Skyrim. Even the Blue Palace of Solitude didn’t get half of this drama when High King Torygg was still alive. Jarl Balgruuf was known to be a patient but firm man thus he could deal with this court of his but with the war at his doorstep and the Dragon on his roof, the Jarl was easily agitated.
“Oblivion takes you all! I’ll not stand idly by while a dragon burns my hold and slaughters my people!” He shouted, “Irileth, send a detachment to Riverwood at once.”
“Yes, my Jarl.” Irileth nodded and went off right away.
“We should not…” Proventus wanted to retort but Jarl Balgruuf cut him.
“Enough! All of you are dismissed.”
The Jarl’s voice made everyone in this place move like rats. His Housecarl was loyal to his call but his steward was bought by the Imperials. He had to make a balance between his will and the interests of his allies.
“Adventurer, wait!” The Jarl called for me as he dismissed the others.
I stood in my place as he returned to his seat.
“Well done. You sought me out, on your own initiative. You’ve done Whiterun a service, and I won’t forget it.” He said and continued. “Here, take this as a reward.”
In the game, he gives pieces of enchanted gear but in reality and just like any other, he tossed purses of Gold.
“Thank you, Jarl Balgruuf.”
“There is another thing you could do for me. Suitable for someone of your particular adventuring career, perhaps. Come, let’s go find Farengar, my court wizard. He has been looking into a matter related to these dragons and… rumors of dragons.” He stood up and signaled me to follow.
At long last, I get to continue doing this blasted quest. Thankfully, I am ready but the moment I go down this path after him, everything will start happening. I wasn’t scared, actually, I was excited.
“I’ll introduce you to Farengar. He can be a bit… difficult. Mages, you know. He’s probably puttering around in his lab. Day and night. I’m not sure he ever sleeps.”
Following the man in his castle, the Jarl walked to a room beside the hall that seemed like an artistic mix of a lab and an office with everything arcane decorating it. Farengar’s place looked better than the game and reminded me of my workplace. Books and ingredients scattered everywhere with magic felt in the air. Amidst all that was a robed man covering his head with a large hood and looking through a reading monocle at a book.
Farengar Secret-Fire, also known as the Nerd.
“Farengar, think I’ve found someone who can help you with your dragon project. Go ahead and fill him in with all the details.” The Jarl said, introducing me to Farengar.
Farengar scanned me with his eyes, I could feel him trying to detect anything but I made sure that he can’t see through me.
“Hmmm… interesting!” The man said.
“Well, I’m sure you two will get along famously.” The Jarl said, “More importantly, your work is a priority now. Anything we can use to fight this dragon, or dragons. We need it, quickly. Before it’s too late.”
“Of course, Jarl Balgruuf. You seem to have found me an able a.s.sistant. I’m sure he will prove most useful.” Farengar said.
“Succeed at this, and you’ll be rewarded. Whiterun will be in your debt.” The Jarl said.
“Thank you. Jarl Balgruuf. Alright, what is that project I’ll be helping in, Master Farengar?” I asked.
“Hm? A project! Oh yes, let me see.”
Farengar started to ramble through a pile of books while the Jarl and I were watching this absolute mess.
“Here it is.” Farengar extracted an old book and opened it, “I want you to fetch something for me. Well, when I say fetch, I really mean delve into a dangerous ruin in search of an ancient stone tablet that may or may not actually be there.”
“I see. My last job was actually similar to this, funny!” I said.
“Good, nothing difficult for you then. I… learned of a certain stone tablet said to be housed in Bleak Falls Barrow. a [Dragonstone] said to contain a map of dragon burial sites. Go to Bleak Falls Barrow, find this tablet, no doubt interred in the main chamber, and bring it to me. Simplicity itself.” Farengar said.
And from there, things will start to unfold my way.
“Bleak Falls Barrow? The Dragonstone? I’m afraid this is nothing so simple.” I said, making a serious face.
“And why is that?” The Jarl asked in a demanding voice.
“Oh! I mean no disrespect, of course. The thing is… I have already delved into the said Crypt and fetched the said Stone. This was the job I spoke of, Jarl Balgruuf, I was delivering it when I got captured.” I said.
“What?” The Jarl was shocked, “Do you still have it?”
“By Ysmir, what are you waiting for then?” The Jarl urged me to bring it out.
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“Alright… but Jarl Balgruuf, the employer I spoke of has already paid me for it. I can only lend it to Master Balgruuf here, I mustn’t part with it.” I said.
“Ugh! You needn’t worry, I’ll double whatever you have been paid for it.” He said.
“It is not a matter of money, my Jarl.”
“Isn’t it? Then is it honor among mercenaries?” He asked indifferently.
“Neither. It is the employer himself. I mean no disrespect but that man is not someone I can cross. He is… dangerous.” I said making up a fearful tone.
“More dangerous than a Jarl in his own castle?” The Jarl said.
“I beg your pardon, my Jarl, but I wish to avoid both the headsman and pestering that man.” I made my stance clear.
“Who is that man?”
This question would mostly come from the Jarl but he wasn’t the one asking, rather, it was a woman’s voice coming further from Farengar’s quarters.
“Who’s there?” The Jarl shouted.
“It’s… it’s okay, Jarl Balgruuf. It’s just an a.s.sociate researcher.” Farengar said as he pointed towards the inner study of his lab.
From there stepped out a woman covering herself under a hood and a cloak. It’s about time she showed herself.
“Hmph! An a.s.sociate, you say?” The Jarl rechecked.
“Yes. She was the one who pointed me towards the Dragonstone.” Farengar confessed.
“Alright.” The Jarl seemed to have accepted the answer.
On the other hand, I was looking at that woman as I already know her ident.i.ty. She is Delphine, someone I don’t want to a.s.sociate myself with at all. Basically, this is the most stupid person in the whole game. The reason why I picked the Dragonstone in advance was to avoid her but I detected her as soon as I entered the Lab.
“So, who is that employer you spoke of?” The Jarl asked the question.
“I don’t know him by the name but he is someone terribly powerful. I met him in North of Cyrodiil at Bruma and he gave me some jobs, the last was to bring him the stone tablet. He is a Nord but taller than an Altmer, red haired and blue eyed with a loud voice and brash att.i.tude but he is a mage from what I know. That’s all I know of him.” I said.
“Wait! Red haired… taller than an Altmer… and a Mage?” The Jarl stopped me to think, “I don’t think… hey, was there anything else you noticed about him?”
The Jarl fell in my trap, this is what I was aiming for from the beginning.
“Hmm… he cracks a lot of cats and dragons jokes to the point where it is annoying sometimes… oh! And he carries a black cat with him.”
The Jarl shouted in surprise but m.u.f.fled his voice in a second, he almost lost control of his mouth and recited the name of Talos, the outlawed Deity. As a Jarl a.s.sociated with the Empire, he had to get more careful but hearing my description made him lose it for a second. He soon recovered and made sure that only the people in this room heard him.
“Ehem! You said you know that man? He is your employer? G.o.ds!”
“Jarl Balgruuf, who is that man?” Farengar asked in surprise not expecting the level headed Jarl to lose control like this.
“Someone I don’t want to offend. He is friendly to Whiterun and I wish it stays that way.” The Jarl said, “If this madman has returned, Skyrim will be way noisier than it is now… G.o.ds! I think it is about time he returns anyway.”
Oh! I’m heartbroken knowing that he thinks of me that way.
“Fine. Then please lend us the Dragonstone. As soon as my mage here reads it, it will return to you right away.” The Jarl changed his att.i.tude when he spoke to me.
“Alright.” I unfastened the bag that was tied on my back and put it on Farengar’s desk.
“You had that large stone on you all the time?” Farengar asked.
“It is nothing heavy.” I said.
Actually, it is d.a.m.n heavy for a normal person. The stone itself is quite big.
“Jarl Balgruuf, we really can’t afford to lose this tablet. Whoever that employer is should give it for the sake of fighting the Dragons.” At that time, Farengar’s a.s.sociate, aka Delphine, spoke.
“I don’t think that’s up to you. I fund your research and return this stone to his owner. Nothing more than that.” The Jarl refused.
“My Jarl, don’t you think the timing is strange? Someone trying to take the stone one day before the Dragon attacks Helgen.” She asked.
“Enough! This man is not to be trifled with alright but he is trustworthy. If he knows something about dragons, he will show up when the time is right.”
Delphine retreated in front of the authority of Jarl Balgruuf, still, he cold gaze was directed to the [Dragonstone] on Farengar’s office.
She was none of my concern now, all pieces were already in place and all I have to do is wait.
“Very well, you have finished your job before it has even begun, aye? Good, good… I’ll see that you are rewarded and… deliver our best regards to your employer.” The Jarl spoke to me.
“Understood.” I nodded.
My Goal was finally achieved. I now have created the illusion I was after. Still, before anyone could say more, Irileth ran into Farengar’s lab.
“My Jarl, Farengar… a Dragon has been sighted nearby.”
And so it begins.
*10 Minutes Earlier*
Alina led Jullanar and Wulfur in Whiterun towards Jorrvaskr through the Wind District, Isha led Mirren and Miranda in Whiterun towards Jorrvaskr through the Plains District. Alina walked by the Temple of Kynareth and paid respect for the Elder Priestesses and the Gildergreen tree while Isha browsed the stalls in the market then headed up through the large stairway towards the Gildergreen square.
Up there, the two parties were moving almost at the same time towards the stairway leading to Jorrvaskr when they all stopped looking at one another.
Strong people could easily distinguish themselves apart from the crowd and the six of them were a terrifying monster each.
Alina’s red glare and dress with the Crown of Fire Keeper on her head and the vile covering her face were distinguishing her as a woman of power and n.o.bility.
Jullanar’s dark armor and traceless presence made her feel like she would disappear if the eyes were to miss her, the eyes of mismatched-color violet and golden were the two theme colors of the shivering towns of madness Dementia and Mania.
Wulfur was large and towering as Jon but his black hair and eyes gave him a calm presence along with the Righteous and Lawful air around him. Still, his power felt like a towering mountain or an unbeatable hulk.
On the other hand, Isha’s air was sharp and lethal like the warrior who has been through h.e.l.l, as she was. Refined and straight like a spear, Isha was the unrelenting striker.
Mirren was becoming more recognizable than his twin sister as he grew a light beard and started working on his muscles with the new war tattoos he got from Beth. Tricky and unpredictable, the Altmer young man stood proud but behind Isha.
Alienating herself from any troublesome situation, Miranda looked away and covered her head with a hood but behind the front of “don’t involve me!” was the continuation of “or else!”. She was standing idly without any opening watching all, observing all, reading all.
The two groups took interest in one another but Alina and Jullanar were focusing on the one that caused them to feel a familiar scent, on the one who didn’t want to involve herself, Miranda.
“You, Altmer… approach.” Alina spoke to Miranda.
Miranda turned to Alina not understanding why would someone she just met order her around so haughty?
“Who are you to call me sister?” Mirren retorted at Alina.
“Keep it quiet, cutie. My sister gets to address whoever she wants.” Jullanar glared at Mirren.
“Don’t call my cutie a cutie.” Isha pointed her spear at Jull with obvious anger.
“Don’t play with your dangerous toy in front of my sisters-in-law.” Wulfur effortlessly held the blade of Isha’s spear by its head.
As the five spoke, Miranda couldn’t seem to understand how each and every one of those five managed to start a fight for their own reason. People are truly stupid but she still had to side with her family.
“Who are you, people?” She asked.
Wulfur raised his brows, Jullanar showed a crazy smile and Alina haughtily snorted.
“We were just wondering the same thing.”
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