Hey guys, quick note before you start reading:
This is the beginning of the revised version of A Dragon's Demons chapters 1-7. I started writing this story in 2015 and since then I have gotten a degree in Creative Writing. Now, that doesn't mean I am flawless at writing. I still have a lot to learn. I lost momentum with the story because I didn't like it. That is why I am doing this.
Also: to the reviewer who said they wouldn't continue reading because they hated first person: I don't care, have a nice day.
Please RandR with CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Don't like it? Don't read. I really don't want to keep getting emails of people just saying mean things under a "Guest" profile because they have nothing better to do.
I'm a nice person I promise. Enjoy!
The moment I became aware of the Silverhand ambush, it was already too late.
I had been traveling back to Jorrvaskr from the Throat of the World after a conference with Paarthurnax. Even after the defeat of Alduin, my soul has been churning inside of me, day by day becoming more taxing on my mind and body.
I was haunted at all hours. These wars; The Civil War, The Dragon War, they were costing me so much. I had no more to give. Shame, hurt, sorrow, and regret plagued me to the point of breaking. I had asked the old dragon for guidance.
Rather than take my usual road back to Whiterun along the northern side of the Monahven, I had decided to take the scenic route through the mountain pass to the south, and head up to Whiterun from the Helgan road instead.
I hardly remembered coming down from the mountain, my senses dulled by the turmoil inside me. My negligence had my horse and me walking right into a trap.
A dozen Silverhand surrounded me. I could easily count their heads from atop my silver roan stallion, Gunnolf. He tossed his head and turned on the spot, rolling his eyes, tail thrashing behind him, snorting in alarm.
"Easy, easy." I whispered. No doubt he could feel the apprehension rolling off me in waves.
"We've been waiting for you, Companion. Our trackers have been following you for some time, and you came right to us like the dog that you are."
An orc missing half his nose addressed me, two-handed silver sword at the ready. He was wrapped in a hide of deep, black, coarse fur.
Werewolf. He reeked of the pain and blood of my kin. In fact, all their scents were so strong, it was disturbing I hadn't smelled them before.
How could I have been so careless?
I drew my Skyforge steel sword from its scabbard strapped to Gunnolf's saddle. When the stallion heard the ring of metal, he squared up, awaiting my command. The small round shield that also hung from his saddle was quickly in my other hand.
With a growl, I bared my teeth. "Who are you, scum, to hunt? Though it would bring me great pleasure, save me the trouble of spilling your foul blood and slit your own throat while you have the chance, Kin-Killer." I spat the last word with venom and hatred.
Laughter rang out amongst the silver-armed company. Icy fingers trailed down my spine. I suddenly wished I hadn't forgone my heavier armor currently in the saddle bags, for lighter leather and chainmail for quicker travel.
"Oh, this should be fun, a cocky she-wolf with no pack in sight. When we are done, we'll go ahead and cut the head off the serpent. Heard your mead hall is nice and cozy this time of year. Perhaps we'll all pop in for a drink, eh lads?"
Shouts of agreement rose up. Spinning my sword in my hand, I ignored the hammering of my heart.
Driving my spurs into Gunnolf's flank, he sprang forward. Luckily, the Silverhand weren't anticipating such a forward charge. This bought me a few seconds to gain the upper hand. Slashing down with my sword, I clove the orc's head in two. Blood and bone shot out, coating Gunnolf's side in crimson.
The metallic smell encouraged the Wolf within me. My senses sharpened as my own blood began to pump with renewed vigor.
I turned Gunnolf's head sharply, blocking an incoming sword with my shield. The wielder stumbled back. Turning my head to the right, I let the power well up inside me.
The Shout pushed three foes onto their rumps. One rolling back, sweeping a fourths legs from underneath him, sending him to the ground as well. On reflex, Gunnolf kicked out a hind leg, catching a Bosmer male in the face. There was a sickening crunch, and blood splattered the ground. A wave of excitement flooded through my body at the sight of the gory mess that was now the dead Silverhand.
Unfortunately, the others recovered quickly. They closed in, weapons up, throwing taunts. I threw a fire ball at an Imperial with an ax that decided to break ranks. He fell back, but another quickly took his place, followed by a swordsman from the other side. Moving Gunnolf's hind quarters away, I struck out at the Imperial, who parried my sword. I faked left, then slashed right, moving his guard over to open his neck from ear to collarbone.
Bringing Gunnolf around again, I kicked out my foot, catching a Nord woman in the face. Her sword shot out, the tip cutting a gash into my left thigh. White hot pain flared up my leg. The Wolf howled in pain along with me.
I could feel the gash burning and blistering from contact with the silver blade. An arrow from an unseen archer jerked me backwards in the saddle as it imbedded in my chest. The leather armor and chainmail shirt did enough to stop the blow from being fatal, but fire burned up inside my chest as the silver arrow head buried deep into my upper left breast.
Drawing a shaky breath, I lashed out with sword and shield. Turning Gunnolf around and around, my cloak whipped about me like a pair of wings. I sent more flames with a Shout, igniting the furs of two foes. They flailed about, screaming as they tried desperately to shed themselves of their flaming garments. The scent of scorched flesh permeated the air.
One managed to rid himself of his cloak, however the other was not so fortunate. She threw herself into snow to smother the flames. Her wails of pain rang off the rocky walls of the mountain. Flesh bubbled and blistered till she finally lay still, a blackened and charred mess upon the silver snow.
My satisfaction was cut short by another arrow sinking into my left shoulder. Burning pain radiated down my shield arm. My vision wavered for a moment, the taste of blood in my mouth; I bit my tongue without realizing. Breaking the shafts of the arrows off as quickly as possible, a howl pushed its way from my lungs.
I conjured ice in my sword hand, throwing a spear at the nearest enemy. It drove deep into his chest, ribs cracking and breaking. His eyes bulged, coughing up blood before keeling over.
Blood lust roared in my veins. The electrical ball in my stomach began to dissipate. They were fools to challenge me. All of them. How dare they try and corner me and threaten my family?
Rage boiled up from my belly. I could feel it spread through my chest, my limbs, chasing away the horrible pain from the silver barbs. Lips pulled back, baring my teeth, my roar carried through the pass, displacing snow and icicles from rocky ledges overhead. The remaining Silverhand hesitated, not wanting to be the next to move in.
I made the decision for them. Pulling my feet from the stirrups, I used the momentum of Gunnolf's circling to throw myself from the saddle onto the nearest foe.
We tumbled to the ground. I didn't give half a second to think before I planted my knees on his arms and drove my shield into his neck.
Three times I brought the solid wooden edge down on the soft flesh of his throat. He tried to scream, but it came out as a high pitched squeal, like a choking pig. The wheezing turned to gurgling as blood splattered and pooled on the frozen stones.
I sprang up from the ground before the light even left his eyes. My target raised her shield. We collided hard, her shield splitting down the middle. My sheer strength sent her flying back like a ragdoll.
My vision went red, the rest was a blur of raw furry. Shield and blade followed a deadly dance. Their screams were my music, a rhythm for me to follow. Blood seeped down the slope of the road, thick and dark. The smell had the Wolf crazed, so metallically sweet…
As the music slowly died, my feet slowed. It was over, not one enemy left standing.
Mangled bodies decorated the now red stones. Lumps of bloody flesh, bone, and fur. Broken swords, cloven shields accented the sea of carnage.
I threw back my head and howled. An awful and terrifying blend between human and animal.
My breath came in ragged pants. The pass was still except for the dripping of crimson from the point of my blade.
Moments passed, then minutes. I lost count of time. The muscles in my back were like steel ropes, refusing to relax. I feared if I moved, something might snap. Blood lust still pounded in my ears, the Wolf reveling in the gore around us.
A soft clip clopping of hooves broke me from my trance. I blinked, eyes watering from the cold. Gunnolf slowly approached with his head down and ears forward. His nostrils were flared, puffs of breath misting in the air. Halting a few feet from me, he stretched his neck towards me, nose reaching out.
My shield dropped from my grasp. Gunnolf jerked back for a split second, then inched closer again. Slowly, my left hand reached out from my side. Blood coating my gloves and gauntlets had begun to dry.
My fingertips brushed Gunnolf's muzzle. He snorted, no doubt clearing the stench of blood. Bringing my hand back, I slowly worked the glove and gauntlet from my hand. The blood had seeped through the soft leather, crusting under my nails. Reaching out again, my bare flesh met the soft velvety muzzle of my companion.
The stallion moved closer to nudge my shoulder. The roaring in my body began to wane and placate. The Wolf turned in circles till she settled back into my sub-conscience.
The ropes finally unclenched throughout my body. My shoulders sagged, adrenaline washing away. Reaching up, I twisted my fingers into Gunnolf's mane.
I pressed my forehead against his, letting out a long breath. Pain had begun to radiate from my wounds. Throbbing blistering skin pulled tightly around the silver arrow heads still imbedded in me.
"Come on, love." I whispered to Gunnolf, "Here is no place to rest."
Sword cleaned and back on the saddle along with my shield, I attempted to remount. The arrow head in my shoulder ground against bone, sending a stabbing numbness all the way to my fingertips. Every time I tried to hoist myself up into the saddle, my left arm started to shake violently.
Gunnolf's back was almost six feet tall at the shoulder. At my full strength, he was a test in agility. Now it was nigh near impossible.
One of the more intact Silverhand corpses serving as a step, I hauling myself into the saddle. Gunnolf set off at a purposeful walk without command. He knew where he was going.
Pressure in my skull began to build as we rode. Coming down from the high of battle, my body made aware my injuries. My blood had soaked through my wool tunic, through my chainmail and into the edges of my leather armor. Silverhand blood was splattered all over me. On my face, I could feel it crunching in my hair, flaking off as it dried.
My head started to pound with every heartbeat. Silver was slowly leaching like poison into my blood stream. Wooden shafts still protruded from my armor, jagged where I had broken the rest of them off. Grasping the one in my shoulder, I counted to three and yanked. With a wet squelching sound, the arrow pulled free. Warm fresh blood pooled under my armor. I did the same to the shaft in my upper breast. They hit the cold stone road with a hallow tinkling sound.
Immediately, my head began to clear. My wounds were still hot and blistered, even with the healing potion I pulled from my bag, they would only leave jagged scars.
Gunnolf had plodded out of the carnage of flesh and blood. An icy wind came down from the mountain pass walls. A strange scent filled my nostrils.
Something was wrong.
Immediately, my hackles rose. Snapping my head to the left, on a ledge, I just missed a blond Silverhand boy nock an arrow and aim.
I reached for my shield, but it was too late. The bow string twanged and the arrow swooshed through the air, sinking into the exposed area under my left arm. Again, hot pain seared through my body. I jolted sideways, my vision went white, Gunnolf screamed.
Unable to get a grip on the saddle, I fell. There was a moment of weightlessness, then my back hit the ground first, then my head. Air was forced from my lungs. I tried to fill them, but a strangled gasp was all that came out. Writhing on the ground, I fought to breath and get back on my feet.
My lungs ached, but finally loosened enough to be able to gulp down air. I rolled onto my right side and attempted to push myself to my knees. My palms slid on a layer of leaves, making it difficult…
I looked up through the tangled hair hanging limply in my face. The ground was littered in red and yellow leaves. Soft sunlight filtered down, casting warm shadows on the ground.
My gaze traveled further till I found the trunk of an oak tree looming above me. The air was warm, the leaves under my hands and knees dewy and soft. Slowly, I sat back on my haunches, almost forgetting the pain radiating from my side and back.
Gunnolf and I were in a small forest clearing in the beginning of autumn. A soft cool breeze smelling of rain and earth jostled the trees above. Merry whirlwinds of leaves danced along the forest floor.
The air was undisturbed and quiet. Birds sung in the tree tops, and Gunnolf's breath came in pants beside me. I rose onto shaky legs. Reaching under my left arm, I tugged the arrow from my flesh. Droplets of blood began to dot the leaves.
I grunted, cursing under my breath. Fishing a second healing potion from my saddle bag, I downed it. My head was clouded from blood loss and fatigue, however my headache subsided as my wounds began to stitch themselves closed.
"Laas yah niir." I whispered.
My vision focused, the world around me blooming with vivid colors. Life hummed from the trees and the earth, but I saw no red smudges of larger beasts, humanoid or animal.
I tried not to panic once my vision cleared. What had happened or where we were, I had no clue. Perhaps in desperation, I used some obscure dragon power I didn't know I possessed? The odds of that were slim. The more likely option being I was dead and trapped in Hircine's eternal hunting grounds. But Gunnolf wouldn't be here…
I was lost on trying to rationalize it all. A camp needed to be made and my clothes needed washing lest I start attracting every animal from here to only gods knew how far.
It took three tries to mount up in the saddle again. I began the search for a water source by going against the wind. The plodding of Gunnolf's hooves were dampened by the fallen leaves. The quiet of the forest was soothing, and soon I caught the sound of a slow moving stream.
Sure enough, a little way further through the trees, a forest stream about six feet wide and no more than three feet deep cut through the landscape.
I dismounted and began to unbuckle my armor. I shrugged it off and my chain shirt. My tunic had to be pealed from my skin from all the blood that had pooled from my wounds.
My tunic was the first to be washed. While it dried in a patch of sun, I searched my bag for a small bar of lavender soap Tilma made sure I packed before leaving Jorrvaskr. Careful to not wet my pants, I washed the crusted blood from my body. The water in the stream turned pink and was swiftly taken away with the current. While my clothes dried on the bank of the stream, I washed what blood I could from Gunnolf's silver-grey coat.
Within the hour I was clothed in a slightly damp tunic and armor, feeling better than I had. Effects of the silver poisoning still lingered, and probably would for a few days till I could properly, eat, rest, and maybe take a stronger potion. Mounting up again, I followed the line of trees heading upstream, keeping the water in sight.
It was warm, and before long I had to shed my cloak and fur, tucking them into my saddle bags with my wolf armor. The sun trailed across the clear sky as the hours went by. I only halted once the sun began to dip towards the horizon. Gunnolf had started to stumble over his hooves, almost tipping me from my seat more than once.
We were both exhausted. A small camp with only a lean-to and bedroll served as our home for the night. Dinner was cold deer jerky, cheese, and bread from my pack.
At dawn, I awoke with my head feeling like it had been stuffed with cotton. A headache pulsed faintly in my temples.
I traveled all that day and camped at dusk, again forgoing a fire. I came across no one except for the occasional deer. This carried on for two more days.
Each morning I awoke more and more fatigued. Nightmares plagued my slumber as normal, but I could not shake the tiredness from my limbs. The headache had grown from a small thrum to the beat of a drum. The Wolf was restless, rising up from my sub-conscience more each day.
The trees became more tangled, and I still hadn't found a road. Once we crested a hill, I could see an expanse of rolling hills that met a line of trees on the other side. Working Gunnolf carefully down the hillside, I watched the grasses for anything worth noting.
Still no creatures afoot. No fires, no buildings, no people. I sighed heavily. I couldn't keep traipsing the landscape hoping to come across something.
High pitched screeches cut through the air like a knife. My blood froze as cold fingers trailed down my spine. The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard. No human, animal, or daedra had ever screamed like that.
Gunnolf squealed in alarm, throwing back his head. He attempted to rip the rains from my grip and flee. I held firm, desperate to keep him under control.
Digging my spurs into his flank, I urged the stallion forward to the crest of the next hill. Nine black figures on black steeds rode hard out across the grass and stones, not too far ahead from where Gunnolf and I stood on the hill. There was a gleam of white at the head of the host of riders.
Every fiber in my body screamed to turn and run. Gunnolf shuffled his hooves, rising up on his hind legs a few inches when I bore down on the reins.
A commotion snapped my attention farther right down the hill to another line of trees. Two tall figures and three smaller ones appeared, fruitlessly heading in the direction of the chase. Instinctively, with no explanation of how, that the nine riders could not be allowed to catch their quarry.
Something in my blood sang…
Go. Go. GO