Edit Author Note (28, September, 2020). So if you reading this then you should realize the title of the fanfiction, summary and prologue has now been rewritten, hopefully now reader will know what to expect from this story. It's not oneshot pure romance lol, sorry, but war, blood, martial arts, adventure and of course, romance, maybe a bit more than that but ya. I do recommend you guys to reread them so you get a decent idea what the fk is this story even about. so tq and gbye, hope you enjoy reading my story as much i do.
Faendal truly did not exaggeration his skill as a archer and a hunter. He have already proven his skill from his feat yesterday adventure when clearing bandits. To able to hit a target in less than 100 yard and still in effective range is already an impressive feat, but to be able to pierce an Iron Armor is a whole new level, and that was before Elis sharpen his arrow or/and use a bodkin arrow which is basically a specialize arrowhead which design to pierce armor, instead he used your typical steel barbed arrow which meant for hunting or piercing unarmored opponent. Impressive is an understatement.
While his skill and talent isn't exactly unheard among the Legion army or across Skyrim, as there are many skilled, talented archer that can do the same if not greater. However, this is still the first time I have seen such performance with my own eyes. I always thought such feat is over exaggerated by drunken soldiers, mercenaries, adventurers so they can attract attention when babbling about their adventurers, achievement in the battlefield and what not or in some case other people stories, stories such as capable of overpowering a giant with pure strength and withstanding a a blow, swing by a giant, or fighting off hundred Orc berserker while they only have a single shield brother, but when I saw a dragon burning down Helgen and I'm currently on an adventure with another talented individual, it not a fact too hard to swallow anymore.
Once again, he's able to spotted the enemy before any of us can even if he were to point where they and right where he stand, he pull out his long bow which was also improved by Elis, with the guidance of my uncle as a experience blacksmith of many years and Faendal basic knowledge on what they know about when it comes to thing to maintaining and strengthening a bow as a Bosmer archer.
With those two as Elis mentor and guidance, she successfully able to refine the already high quality longbow into a superior one. It was estimate to able to pierce through a well made Iron chestpiece and pierce the heart or any vital are.
While they haven't test field yet, they confident it won't break. Faendal, only pull string and bend the bow to it's limit and he just leave it there and said, "It's a good bow." Ending it in an anti-climatic way. "I know a good bow when I held one." He said as he walk away trying to act cool but only make a fool of himself when Elis said it wasn't finish yet.
He take an aim and, grab an arrow started to draw his bow but I stopped him mid-way.
"Wait, how do we know they're bandits and not just fellow law-abiding adventurers?"
"You're right... we should walk to them, If they brandish their weapon and shoot at us they're bandits, if they welcome us in, Eh..." Faendal was able to resist his temptation to reply with sarcasm but end up actually agreed with Hadvar., and continued seriously. "But Hadvar does has a point, I prefer not having blood of innocent in my hand, even if they live because my arrow missed their vital area, but I doubt that will happen. The only reason I shot the bandits outside the mine near Riverwood is because I know they are bandits before, when I stumble upon their base. Fortunately their front guard just warn me to not a step furher."
"Wait, so you know then why-?"
"I didn't report them to the authority?" Faendal continue Elis question for her. "I didn't report them to the authority in Falkreath because it's quite a far distance from Riverwood for me to walk in just a day, that and there's hasn't rumour going around bandit attacking near Riverwood, so they were practically harmless at that time since there hasn't been a rumour of bandits attacking traveler near Riverwood, not that I was gonna let them do their banditry business near the town where I live that is. So it was on my to-do list until you guys come in and want to wipe them out which I will gladly help."
"But why Falkreath, surely the Jarl of Whiterun will help his people if you ask?" Elis continue to question.
"Because that's how it's work in Skyrim at very least, not sure how other Province work. Unless the bandit decide to do a bold move such pillage Riverwood or attack traveler near Riverwood, the Jarl most likely won't move a single of his men to protect Riverwood, instead he will give the responsibility of taking care of the bandits within Embershard Mine to Jarl of Falkreath instead, making him bleed his own coffer instead of his... In fact if he were to order his men to guard Riverwood, Jarl of Falkreath will always see it as a provocation and he most likely will assume Whiterun is preparing to join Ulfric in this Civil War and invade Falkreath while will escalate the Civil War even further. Even if almost all of Skyrim acknowledge Jarl Balgruuf is neutral in this Civil War, Jarl of Falkreath will not take that chance and will prepare the worst case scenario" I answered her question in Faendal stead.
"Ya... What he said." said Faendal and try to remind all of them including himself what kind of situation they currently in. "Guys, can we not talk in middle of the blizzard or I end up freezing to death, the point is... or rather the original point is we can't just shoot everybody that seems remotely suspicious, we need to know what we fighting or we end up blood of innocent in our hand."
Elis agreed as well and seem rather embarrassed in her lack of common sense and instantly came up a simple plan to see if they're hostile or not. "Then Hadvar, you and I will go walk up to them and see if they're hostile or not, shield up, weapon down. Faendal, you go and get yourself in a better shooting position and hide yourself until we send you a signal it's safe to come." Elise explain her plan to two of us which we agreed without hesitation. It was simple plan but decent enough since both Elis armor and mine are more than enough to bounce off an arrow, even Faendal wasn't sure to penetrate our armor or shield with his new bow, as he already shoot an arrow against both of our armor with his old one.
It wasn't even long before the first bandits notice them and just draw his bow and shot us the moment he notice two of us and missed, and I don't think those were warning shot.
Instantly Faendal return a shot with his own arrow and already prepare a second arrow from his quiver. The arrow which successfully penetrate the bandits iron armor but failed to hit his vital area, his heart.
"You missed." Which I didn't need to said to him, instead I just gave him a look. Of course he didn't really missed, I was just playing around... but you expect the hunter who shot a bear during a blizzard 300 yard away to able to hit the vital area of the bandits which is less half of that.
But he didn't missed but rather he used the first bandits as a bait to alert the rest of the bandit inside the watch tower and hoping they poke their head from the watchtower, and as he predict, two head appear from the watch tower, one from the 1st floor, and another run through the door to see what's the commotion about and save his friend or rather kill anyone that foolishly stumble upon a bandit watchtower.
The bandit in the 1st floor was a sharp one, he suspect know there's an archer outisde and only show his head which was protected by Iron helmet. The other bandit however, not so much.
But even that all two of them commit a grave mistake, without giving neither of them to react, he shot both of them down, the first target was the smart one, despite wearing Iron Helmet which should have bounce off any arrow shot within the effective range, it didn't do him any good, even with the disadvantage of the harsh weather of the mountain, for Bosmer archer, it hardly slow the arrow down too even lose enough momentum from being shot from afar, which was shoot no more than 150 yards. Faendal brag of shooting down a bear during blizzard from 300 yard might not be an over exaggeration... It might be an actual bear he shot and not a snow fox.
"You were saying?" Written all over in his smug face I assume even though I can't see his expression.
As Elis and I finish clearing the watchtower, making sure they're all die and loot everything worth carrying...
I decide to ask Elis the same question that Faendal ask moment ago while we collecting all the loot.
"Why are we going to Bleak Fall Barrow again? You haven't tell us the reason, Elis."
"I heard that Riverwood Trader got robbed, only a single item got stolen by the thief despite the fact there's more valuable item to steal. It's a Golden Claw some kind. Lucan promise us good gold(some coin which he receive from his last shipment) if we bring it back, he said the thieves camp near Bleak Fall Barrow, so here we are."
"Guess that's explain why you telling us to wear extra layer cloth, even Nord born and live in Skyrim harshest climate would freeze to death if they were to try endure this blizzard bare naked."
"But is it really worth searching some claw made of gold near this cursed place, I really don't like it." Faendal join our conversation which he walk from his shooting spot.
"Same here. These old ruins... They don't want us here, the ancient ones. Better left alone if you ask me. I would rather fight against Stormcloak who is a former veteran Legionnaire than to go near this place." I paused and take a deep breath and continue. "But I have already promised I will help in any way so I can't really complain (after trying to act cool)."
"Same here, I would rather wrestle a wolf with just an Iron dagger than seeing fighting those draugr up close..." Said Faendal.
"Well beside seeking for the Golden Claw in exchange for coins, I believe there's something within this very ruin, there's something which will help us, or at least for me, in the long run."
"I have already scout up ahead, there's more bandits, most likely same group as them." To which he pointed the corpse of bandits he shot with his bow. "Which mean the thief that we looking for is with them as well, making this job much harder than it should be. And I was right, they are our fellow adventurers, venturing those ruins for wealth and power, just not the law abiding type. Probably heard about the legend which appeared within Riverwood not too long ago."
"Wait, what legend are you talking about?" Elis asked.
"He's probably talking about the rumor of how those ancient nord ruins hold power no less inferior to that of a Mage and treasures waiting to be discovered."
"Well according to legend-"
"Rumour." I correct him.
"LEGEND." He ignored me and continued on. "Those ancient nord ruins tend to have great power, beside wealth, precious gems, treasure and what not. Legend said those power can give anyone a power that's equal to that of a mage if not stronger. Some say you can take on a whole army just by learning it, becoming a one man army yourself, capturing cities from left to right and whatnot."
"Kinda like Tiber Septim?" Elis thought of an example.
"Like Tiber Septim himself." I agreed of Elis example of one man army. Talos was a powerful man, if there's ever definition of one man army, Tiber Septim is one of the example, after all he is a god or ascend to godhood.
"Surely such legend must be exaggerating, you can't just gain power without giving something back... you either need to train for it which can either take year days, weeks or months depending how talented you are and maybe even years to actually pick it up, and decades to master such power, whether it be magic or martial art, the only way to possess such power and skill without effort, you must just give something equally valuable, such as your soul to one of many daedric princes for power." Elis express her opinion of such over exaggeration legend not realizing she's basically what many people would die for, even if they have to worshiping daedric prince for the rest of their life and selling their soul to them after they died. Most men want her to be their wife and most women want to look exactly like her, pretty face, attractive body, young, unwrinkled, baby skin, most of all, in term of talent, she is what everyone want to be whether it be man or woman, a very talented person.
"What are you two looking at me for?" To which we avert our eyes and continue storing the loot into our backpack.
"Both of you should know but don't expect too much wealth within those ruins, I wouldn't be surprise most of it have already been ransack by previous adventurer before us long time ago." I warn them to be prepared to be disappointed.
"True... wait but what about beyond the locked door, surely there's untouched treasure?"
"What locked door?"
"So you haven't actually heard the the actual rumor? This rumor isn't the same rumor that constantly keep popping out within Riverwood because the local drunker keep babbling about it. No, according to the Inn Keeper, it started when a group of adventurer return from Bleak Fall Barrow after unsuccessful expedition, it seem they succeed venturing deep inside the ruin unharmed but instead of discovering treasures and power, they discover some kind of ancient Nordic puzzle. It seem to require a special key to actually open, they tried everything, mining it with a pickaxe, destroying it with a magical spell, you name it, they say it repair itself after the very next morning. When they return to Riverwood to rest after living in the ancient ruin for a whole week trying to pass through the puzzle door, they stay within the inns asking around the town if anyone knew a thing or two about ancient Nordic puzzle, but they end up leaving after receiving a new contract, something about wiping out a bandits hideout."
As we pack all of the loot which we find valuable to carry in term of the weight and value ratio which weren't much considering they were wearing fur clothing, we walk to our next destination. Bleak Fall Barrow.
"How many did you see, Faendal?" Elis ask.
"3 to 4 bandits. Those pillars can easily hide a body of fully grown man so there could be more guarding the entrance."
"I say let's all use bow for now, the bandits earlier didn't seem to properly equip so I doubt all of them are carrying bow. Focus the real threat first, Faendal, make sure their archers are drop dead and if they came running into us, then Elis and I deal with them. No need to go rush in and throwing away our advantage. We should be able to avoid cuts and injury in this battle if we do this properly." I shared my thought and tactic for the battle for the first time to them to which they unexpected welcome, especially Elis to which seem to appear relief that someone else can be the tactician for the group, lightening her burden on her shoulder as a leader for this 3 man group
As we planned, Faendal take the first lead, bringing down a bandit with a several of arrow, this time he doesn't bother going for instant kill, and just filled the man with arrow instead which he doesn't have to filled another as he fall off the edge instead, falling to his death as Faendal try to stay right behind us to shoot any bandits that hold a bow, which does appeared as soon as we take the first step of the stair, which fortunately got shot by Faendal, followed by us as well. We tried to wait for more of them to come to take the bait but instantly I realize we don't have the luxury to wait, for all we know they could ask for help from their group inside the ruin.
I signal to Elis to rush in with me and Faendal to watch our back as I put my bow on my back and unsheathe my sword and shield and while they seem to want to ask what's up with the change of plans at first, but didn't said anything in the end, soon Elis followed as well and bring up her sword and shield. As we starting to see the end of the stair and the corpse of a dead archer who got bombard by arrows by three of us. We too got attack continuously by the enemy archer, three of them from what I can felt from the rate of attack and sense of their voice and presence. As expected, every single one of their arrow bounce off when it hit our shield, while we have no doubt our armor can do the same, it doesn't change the fact not all of our body is protected, for example our joint, the eye socket of our helmet and other area of our body which isn't protected by our armor.
As we receive a continuous attack from them, I keep an eye out on my right to see if some of the bandit is trying to make a run for it for the large door to scream for backup, but it doesn't seem anyone is going for it.
Not too long, the attack stopped as they realize their attack is useless, it didn't even leave a single dent on our shield even after dozen of arrow laying in front us on the floor broken, they ditch their bow and rush us with sword and mace, one of them even wield a dagger... I realize all three of their weapon are kinda wet of some liquid, there's a black vial on the floor near the same area where they ditch their bow, their weapon must have been coated with poison, this fight might actually become a problem. As Elis and I raise our sword to prepare to face their attack, we both take a step to our side to allow Faendal to have a proper view to shoot at them, not that he need them but just to be safe.
3 arrow fly past by our leg within a short amount of time and 3 knee got shot by an arrow at that moment, and all three of them drop on the floor, screaming of pain, one is handling it well and cursing at us, the other two... not so much as they are crying of pain a lot more than the other.
Two of them might accidentally cut themselves with their own weapon which was previously coated with poison when they fall, Elis and I took pity on them and quickly kill them and the one that doesn't seem to be in much pain as the other got his head pierce by Faendal arrow which he shot his with his bow to we won't get accidentally got cut down because we let our guard down just because our opponent is on the ground. For all we know, he's is determined to bring us down with him.
"That was unexpectedly, they were easier to handle than I expect... Do they even know how to fight." said Faendal as he pulled an arrow from the bandit corpse.
'While I can't help but to agreed with Faendal that the battle was easier than I thought it would be, it would be wrong to say they don't know how to fight, it more like our expectation for bandits in general are higher than it should be because of the first bandits group we ever face were our first impression, including myself and I'm a experience Legionnaire... they were quite skilled, especially that one particular bandits that wounded me. Bandits are after all made up of desperate man, rarely a bandit group to always have a talented individual member, and if they ever were to, that member would instead join a much bigger group that's will pay more for their skills, either that or take over the group themselves,' I thought to myself as I search their body for valuables and coins.
Not only there's a big gap in term of skill, there's also an obvious gap in term of equipment. While the bandits group hiding within the Embershard mine were mostly equip with high quality Iron and Leather Armor, this group is mostly equipping themselves with Fur Armor.
While it isn't bad as the defense capability isn't too inferior if you were to compare it to your average Gambeson, fur armor is surprisingly tough more than most people expected it to be but the quality of those fur armor is far from decent to be called as a actual armor, it act more as an outfit to defend against the harsh climate of Skyrim and less than to defend against weapon, other bandits that doesn't armored themselves Fur Armor, armored themselves with actual armor instead or so I thought they were at first sight, but later when checking their bodies for anything valuable, they actually equip themselves with hide armor, which is a very common armor for your starting adventurer who doesn't have enough money to buy themselves Iron Armor.
The Hide Armor is design for starting adventurers, sellsword, mercenary, soldier of fortunate alike to provide themselves with minimum protect against weapon. It usually start with leather armor and end with a single pauldron-armor and a large iron chest piece in middle of the chest of the wearer to protect their heart but unfortunately, as the Civil War plunge Skyrim into chaos, talking all the able-bodied man and sending them to the war instead of patrolling the road, some greedy men will see this as an opportunity to get rich, so presumably law-abiding mercenary who doesn't seem to be doing well as a adventurer turn into banditry instead. This one is wearing the thick leather armor.
But rather than them being too weak, it's more like we actually stronger as a team rather than as a individual, we also have learn valuable experience in our first fight against bandits. With proper planning and tactic, giving us more advantage more than just element of surprise, we also have upgrade our equipment, it is to be expected for us to defeat them without a too much effort.
After searching all of the dead body for valuable for us to loot, we hardly find anything worth taking beside arrow to replace our own that end up broken and some decent quality weapon that worth carrying to sell. All we found is a handful 15 Septims, not much but it's something at very least for looting 5 dead bandits.
After entering through the front door, bombarding the two bandits that were standing near the campfire with arrow, who still hasn't realize all of their teammate outside the ruin are dead.
We discovered several of them have already died to bunch of Skeever.
"Skeever? Seriously?" I can't help but to be disappointed of what kind of bandit we facing. To die to Skeever, even that's a bit too much.
"Don't let your guard down against those little creature, if they overwhelmed you in 1 to 10, I wouldn't be surprise you be all boned after a few minutes."
"Are you being serious?" Elis can't help but to ask for confirmation, even I felt a bit nausea.
"Nah, just kidding. They're just idiot for lowering their guards down, we should have some unlit torch which we got from the mine, no? Lit them up and it will scare them away, or stop them from overwhelming you at very least."
'That doesn't sound very assuring as much as I want it to be.' Elis and I thought.
"Well... at very least this adventure of ours is starting to get easier than I thought it was gonna be. If we keep this up, we clean this ruins by midnight, like a taking a sweetroll from a baby."