Rain smashed down on the golden eagle that protected my head, my pointed ears filled with nought but a constant thumping. The constant stormclouds had filled the skies of Cyrodill for the past three weeks, relentlessly throwing down what must've been oceans in rainfall. For two months we marched, turning grass to mud, all facing north.
After the repulsion of the invasion of Hammerfall, and the loss of High Rock, the only path for the Altmeri army to take Skyrim was through the heartland of the empire. An empire that had kissed our moonstone-clad feet for the past score and a half years. An empire now but fragments of its former self. An empire whose remnants now fought against us with guerilla tactics and dragons matching their very banner. Remnants that had slowed our progress tenfold, turning a week march into a two-month campaign through fractured hostile territory, our destination? Organised hostile territory.
Through the constant pounding of rain, a horn is heard, ordering the countless mer to a halt. Golden-coloured boots immediately sink into mud churned up by countless identical boots with a squelch, similarly to the mer around me. We wait, no sound but the drumbeat of rain, stood side by side.
The skies are suddenly lit with bright flashes of magefire, immediately followed by an ear-shattering roar, the glow of magefire drowned out by a dark, golden glow we had become all too familar with in the past month; the unquenchable fires of dragonkind. Another roar ripped through the sky, swiftly acompanied with an explosion of golden bodies and whirling wind. The cyclone petered out two platoons ahead of mine, hundreds of moonstone-clad mer left shattered upon the muddied ground in its wake.
We all seemingly heard a wordless order, shields being brought to bear, spears alongside them. We sank into the stance drilled into us from day one, shields angled to our left, spears facing the stars.
Another thunderclap-like roar rent a platoon to our front in two, gold mixing with red and brown. Five hundred mer stood between me and the enemy, five thousand at my back.
I gulped. Not every day you prepare to face down a harbinger of the end times. I twisted the soaked wood of my spear in my gloved hand, feeling the grain through the leather. I offered up a quick prayer to Trinimac, asking for his blessing in the battle that might well be my last. Another pillar of flame reached down from the sky on my left, the smell of burning mer reaching my nose. Bitterly hoping I wouldn't become like them, I fixed my eyes forward, only four mer seperating me from the gap between us and the platoon in front. A gap filled with the torn shards of armour, and the broken fragments of their owners.
The sky tore. The dark, oppressive clouds that had blocked the heavens for weeks broke, fleeing from a horned figure stood atop a dragon. Magnus, shining down on the torn and pitted earth, illuminating the bloodied and muddied moonstone covering the land, interspersed with black robes turned brown. The ebony coating of the figure winked at me, the glittering light reflecting off the silver inlays amongst the sea of shadows.
Time froze as the figure drew breath. I could've painted the world in perfect detail in the time it took the breath to reach my lungs, having inhaled with the armoured figure.
And then the figure shouted.
Time resumed with the speed and force of a ballista bolt, a drum echoing out across the green field turned brown. A drum that spelled our death. The words the figure spoke never reached us, the sound captured and absorbed by the thousand corpses in the way. But I knew the words. I knew them as if they had been carved into my brain at birth. Seven words in a language I had never even heard, seven words I could not understand. And yet seven words I knew better than my own name.
Hun Kaal Zoor Lahvirn Kendov Lahvu Skir.
The drumbeat was no longer alone, accompanied by a hundred voices humming in a chilling dirge. The drum beat faster and faster, before the dirge was replaced by a low singing. A song sung by no mortal, man or mer. A song that I would die to.
Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin.
As the first words of the song escaped into the blood-soaked air, the hearts of mer were filled with dread.
Wah dein, vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!
The air before the figure began to tear, raw starlight forcing its way through.
Ahrk fin norok paal graan, fod nust hod zindro zaan,
We were blind children as the raw power of eternity flooded the field, the light of Anu heralding our doom.
Dovahkiin, fah hin, kogaan mu draal!
Spears and shields clattered to the ground, swiftly followed by knees falling into the soaked earth. Our eyes wide with both fear and awe, watching on as the figure, undoubtedly the Dragonborn, called forth an army from Sovngarde.
Horned helms and glittering crowns stood side by side, all glowing with the golden shimmer of Aetherius. Hero stood next to Legend, Legend next to Champion, all before the army of Alinor.
Golden eyes dripping with tears stared at the eternal champions stood forth, waiting for the glistening blades to fall upon our necks. And yet the Heroes of Sovngarde stood still.
The figure mounted upon the dragon slowly raised his head, the same golden glow emanating from his eternal army enshrouding his body, the midnight ebony rivaling the very sun. He stared into my eyes, into my soul. He stared into the eyes of every mer upon the field of the dead, seeing our deepest desires, our deepest regrets, and everything in between.
His lips parted once again.