Chapter One - Out of Helgen
"So, you're finally awake." The voice came from somewhere in front of me, though I couldn't see who had spoken. My vision was clouded, dark and light blurring together. Seemed about right, as my last memory was of my head slamming against a bulkhead after being thrown through a window my the Jedi's Grandmaster, Satele Shan. Though it must be said, the rest of my senses were providing feedback that confused me. The smell of manure and beastflesh flooded my nostrils, and the creaking in my ears and rocking all reminded me of the primitive animal-driven vehicles of a race I and several other Sith had subjugated and destroyed several years ago. My vision finally cleared, and I realized my impression was correct. I was in a wagon, drawn by some kind of furred quadruped. The driver wore armor of some kind of animal skin, and the man across from me, I assumed the one who had spoken, wore metal chainmail under his cloak.
I tried to speak, but only a croak came out. It seemed my ability to speak had yet to return, as well as my Force faculties as nothing happened when I tried to reach out and touch the minds of the four others in the cart with me. The man across from me, a human, continued to speak, with occasional interjections from the man next to him. It seemed the first man was something called a Stormcloak, and the men holding us were something called Imperials. I felt a brief flutter of hope for a moment, thinking I may have stumbled upon loyal servants of the Sith Empire, but that was dashed on realizing that these Imperials were merely some local primitives. It seemed that other than the Stormcloak, the man next to him was a 'horse thief', (I assumed the beast pulling the cart and that the tail guard rode were these 'horses'), and the man next to me was Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the first man's organization. So Stormcloak was a group, not a race, and it seemed these men's race was that of the Nords. I remembered old records from a backwards outworld conquered long ago I had perused long ago out of boredom that mentioned a race called Norsemen, fierce warriors and berserkers in olden times. Based on their armor and the need the Imperials felt to keep their leader gagged, I assumed these Nords were similar. There was one other in the group, though like me he spoke not. He appeared to be some kind of alien race I did not recognize. He was humanoid, but with skin black as coal, pointed ears, and ember-red eyes. His hands were bound like the rest of us, and he wore rags like I and the thief did. I wondered why the Stormcloaks had been allowed to keep their armor while we had not, but it mattered not.
Finally, we arrived at a town, the Stormcloak still going on and on. I had little patience for his yammering, so I tuned him out, instead focusing on the pitiful stone walls and towers of this 'Helgen'. The cart finally rolled to a stop in the square, and we disembarked, lining up before two of the Imperial fools who dared take a Dark Lord of the Sith captive. I vowed they would all perish as soon as my faculties returned. Finally, I was ordered to approach this Imperial Captain and her scribe. My voice had still yet to return, though I felt the stirrings of power in the back of my mind. The power felt… strange, different than the Force usually did. The scribe spoke. "Who… are you?"
Instantly, knowledge flung itself into my mind. I was not on some other world, stranded by the Jedi attack on my vessel. I had somehow been cast into another world, one without the Force, though other powers existed and would apply themselves into the void left by my Force mastery. My weapons and armor had been lost, but it mattered little. I was Sith, and I had no need of such petty things to dominate this pitiful world.
The scribe was still speaking. "You're a long way from High Rock, Breton. Too bad. We'll see that your remains are returned to your birthplace." Yes, that was right. In this new world I was a Breton in my thirty fourth year, from a place called High Rock. There was no Force here, but I was a mage. If I could just reach my powers, these insignificant worms would fall before me. But for the moment, my abilities remained outside my grasp. If these fools thought they could bind and kill me, they would soon find otherwise. The stirrings of power I had felt continued to grow, and would soon manifest. The fools were still talking, and the captain ordered me to the block. I marked her in my mind. She would die first, and painfully. I shuffled to the crowd of Stormcloaks around the block, and watched the first lose his head to the headsman's axe. He died well. Perhaps I should use these Stormcloaks, use them to bring hell to the Empire that thought to destroy me. An interesting thought for later. They decided I would die next. I marched forward, feeling the anger and hate building up in me. This would be close, though I was sure my power would return in time to save me. It always had. A great cry went out from the distance, almost reminiscent of a starfighter's engine. I held no hope for that. This was another universe, another existence. I could rely on no help but what I created for myself.
As the executioner raised the axe, another cry split the air and a great beast landed on one of the stone towers behind the headsman, and a blast of power knocked the hooded man back. I stumbled, then regained my balance and followed Ulfric into the other tower. He stopped on the ground level, but I hurried up the stairs. At the second landing, something warned me to jerk back seconds before the beast slammed its head through the wall and spat fire, roasting another of the Stormcloaks alive. As soon as it left, I hurled myself through the hole, landing in the upper story of a house nearby and thanking the Nine Divines (where had that come from?) the my precognitive powers had returned in the form of the spell Clairvoyance, which I found I could maintain without draining any magicka for a short time (magicka? This world may be more trouble than it was worth). I landed lightly, while I no longer had Force-assisted strength and agility, I still had peak physical fitness and two decades of combat experience, though now that I had lost twenty years in the universe switch I was in better shape than I had been in years.
I dashed through the rest of the town dodging the beast, which I heard some call a dragon, twice more, following Stormcloaks and Imperials alike to find safety. Something told me I wouldn't be able to slay this dragon even with my full abilities, not as things stood currently. Finally, I reached a stout stone building, Helgen Keep based on what the Imperial and the Stormcloak from my cart said while shouting at each other. The dark one from the cart stood with the Imperial, and followed him inside. I followed the Stormcloak, whose name I learned from the shouting was Ralof.
Once inside, Ralof produced a dagger he must have taken from a corpse and cut my hands free. The instant the rope fell, my magic came to me. An impressive list of spells, ideally suited for a Sith Lord. He gestured to a fallen Stormcloak, crumpled against the wall of circular chamber, next to a table and chair still bearing a lit candle and the remains of a meal. "You can take his gear, he won't be needing it anymore," Ralof said.
A small smile flitted across my face. I liked the pragmatism this Nord showed. I did as he suggested, securing the armor but leaving the axe the dead man had carried. My spells would do nicely in its place. Ralof noticed, but chose not to comment. Moments after I strapped on the armor, noise came from the other side of one the gates in opposite walls of the chamber, ninety degrees along the wall from the door we had come through. Ralof dropped into a crouch, pressing against one of the walls next to the door. "Get down!" he whisper-yelled, but I ignored him, summoning spell energy into my hands.
"Sith do not cower before weaklings like these," I growled, a feral grin spreading across my face. It grew wider when I saw the Imperial Captain who ordered my death on the other side of the door.
She put a key in the lock, swinging the door wide even as she saw me and the spells in my hands. She shouted a warning to her companion, drawing her sword as she did. Not fast enough. I cast a spell of Mass Paralysis from my left hand, freezing the two soldiers in place. Then I cast the spell in my right, Bound Sword. A poor substitute for a lightsaber, but better than the poor metals these primitives relied on. I strode forward, lashing out with my spectral blade as I came. The soldier crumpled to the floor, head and body hitting separately, and leaving only the captain. My smile undiminished, I spoke my first words in this new world.
"Well, Captain. How quickly things change. I swore to myself I would kill you first. That went out the window when the dragon attacked. Luckily for you, I also swore to kill you slowly, but with a dragon outside I can't afford to dawdle, so…" Here I switched my off hand spell from Mass Paralysis to Hysteria. "If you survive this, you should be quite mad." My grin covered my entire face as I cast the spell at point blank range. Unable to run, the spell quickly overwhelmed the captain's mind, and within moments she was a gibbering wreck. Apparently she was weaker than I gave her credit for, as her heart gave out in moments and she collapsed to the floor, the paralysis spell having no bearing on a corpse. I took a moment, taking her steel greaves, boots, and gauntlets. I disliked heavy torso armor, but the greaves were attached to the boots and were a vast improvement over the slippers I had been wearing, and I liked to protect my hands and arms as they were necessary for combat and it didn't look like I'd be able to get prosthetics in this new world.
I turned back to Ralof, and saw his eyes shining with a mixture of fear, repulsion… and respect. Yes, I might be able to grow to like these Nords, especially if they would serve me, knowingly or not. He swallowed and the glint in his eyes disappeared, replaced with a level stare. This man had seen death and war before, and it would take more that little display to truly faze him. "Come on," he said, "we had best be going before that dragon decides to crack this place open like an egg."
We delved deeper into the keep, coming across three Imperial soldiers in a storeroom we were forced to divert into after the hallway we followed collapsed. I fired a burst of Chain Lightning from my left, and the three dropped like puppets with their strings cut, their weapons not even yet drawn. Next we reached a torture room, familiar territory for me, where a pair of Stormcloaks fought against an Imperial spellsword and a warrior, while the body of a third Stormcloak lay still on the ground, hideously burned from the lightning cast by the spellsword. Choosing to discriminate my targets as not to upset my new ally, I cast Bound Sword once again, ramming the false blade through the warrior's back while he was occupied with one of the Stormcloaks, and slashing it first across the spellsword's eyes and then his throat. The two left standing joined our little group, and while they talked with Ralof I perused the room. A glance into the cells showed a corpse where robes with a strange glow to them, and some sixth (or in my case seventh or eight) sense told me that wearing them would increase my magicka regeneration, the price of casting spells in this world.
So I reached out with Telekinesis and ripped the door off its hinges, sweeping inside and beginning to strip the corpse of the robes and the hood, which I sensed would increase my available magicka pool. Somehow. The inborn knowledge I carried of my spells told me that Telekinesis would be useless against organics, but it was bloody useful against inanimate objects. Whether it would work on constructs (if they existed in this world), would have to be discovered at a later date.
After a few minutes of shuffling clothes and armor, I had managed to detach the Stormcloak chainmail from the tunic, wore it under the mage robes I had picked up, the ragged tunic I had worn initially serving as a barrier between my skin and the armor. The hood covered my head and shadowed my face, and I felt more comfortable with the looser robes and the hood. It was similar to how had I had dressed in my previous life, though I would prefer darker colors to the blue and cream of the robes and hood. Ah, well. Can't have everything.
Now dressed, Ralof, myself, and our two new companions moved on. Soon enough, we heard voices up ahead, and I gestured for the other three to stay behind. I had another spell I wanted to try out. I moved out into the chamber, a series of platforms over running water, linked by rope and wood bridges, staying low and slow until I reached where a group of Imperials stood, talking about their plans. I looked around and saw that all the Imperials in the room were together, then cast a Mayhem spell. The effect was instantaneous, weapons were drawn and the Imperials hacked each other to bits. Only one survived, and quick blast of lightning felled him.
I returned to the others and we moved on, the Stormcloaks looking in awe at the fallen Imperials. These Nords seemed to have a dislike for magic, but they certainly respected the results. We kept moving through a spider cavern (more lightning), and into a chamber with a bear. I used an Invisibility spell to sneak up on it, then stabbed my bound sword through its eye socket. We finally exited the caves, just in time for the dragon that had just savaged and entire town to sweep over us. We all instinctively crouched, and Ralof dove for cover behind a nearby boulder, not that it would help from an airborne, fire-breathing, death machine. I alone stood tall, watching the dragon sweep over my head and off into the distance. Perhaps I could find a way to bend the dragon to my will, make an ally of it, something of that kind. It would certainly make conquest easier.
Once the dragon was clear, the three Stormcloaks gathered together, whispering for a moment in a clump. Then the two whose names I had never learned split off, taking off at a jog to the north, based on the sun's position. I was a Sith Lord, that didn't mean I didn't have basic survival skills. In any case, after they dashed off Ralof turned towards me. "My aunt Gerdur runs the mill in Riverwood just north of here. She'll be willing to help us," he said.
I raised my eyebrow at his use of 'us', but if I wanted to ally with the Stormcloaks it would probably pay to work with the only one I knew. "Very well. To the north? I will meet you there. I have… business to take care of," I said. After exiting the caves, I had suddenly developed a sense of nearby places, places I wanted to look into. Some kind of mine, some kind of watchtower, and standing stones I could sense an odd kind of power from. Best I could figure, Clairvoyance gave me some kind of awareness of the surrounding area's main features. I had some stops to make before I met Ralof in Riverwood.