A Season of Dragons and War – A Breath of Gods

Chapter 2: The Road Heavily Travelled

…..

4E 201, 17th of Last Seed

Riverwood, Whiterun Hold

Riverwood was a quaint little village with a Mill that was built on an island. I could see the gates from here. Hadvar kept glancing over at me as if I was in danger or something. Truth be told, I felt we all were. With a Dragon on the loose, you couldn't be too careful. One thing was for sure though, I needed to get out of this Imperial Armor. Hopefully his uncle could help me out. The path to Riverwood was uneventful. It seemed that the roars of the Dragon had made all the wildlife scatter. The view was breathtaking as we exited the foothills and traveled down into the Valley. Something I found fascinating was the three standing stones that were located along the snaking road down into the Valley. The standing stones were of the Warrior, the Thief, and the Mage. Hadvar had told me that each one offered a different blessing. I didn't pray to either one. I was more inclined to let things be as they were for a while.

"Listen," Hadvar spoke to me as we walked, "As far as I'm concerned, you've earned your pardon. But we might want to get that checked in with General Tullius first. Until then, keep your head down with the legion. We don't want any complications."

"No, I don't," I agreed, "It's bad enough I can't remember my name or what I did to be put in that situation, but I don't need to be thrown at another headsman again."

"You were crossing the border," Hadvar said, "The legion was setting up an ambush for Ulfric and his supporters. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Well one thing's for sure," I spoke, "I won't be crossing any borders for a long time."

He smirked. We arrived in Riverwood. The main road led North with the Blacksmith's shop as the first building on the left attached to a house. On the right, the first building was a single floored building with a front porch with an old lady sitting on it. Further down was another building, though it was a two floored building. It was the local general store. Several more buildings were further up the road, with a T-shaped crossroad that obviously led to more buildings. The last building along the road looked like an Inn, then a North gate. There was a walk-bridge in front of the blacksmith's shop that led to the Mill. Between the first first building and general store on the right, was a dirt path that led to more homes. I saw a wood elf with a bow, carrying wood up there as well. Apart from him, it seemed that an Orc was leaving the general goods store. He wore a personalized set of iron armor that was painted green and had a large Warhammer on his back. The Orc looked at me, before nodding. Something of his had sparked, which I was guessing was his hand. A magic user? I didn't stare too long as I nodded back. He left, going back out the South Entrance of Riverwood. "Things look quiet here," He spoke, "Come on, there's my uncle." A man was sharpening a blade in the Smithy. "Uncle Alvor!"

"Hadvar?"

"It's so good to see you," Hadvar said.

"What are you doing here?" He asked putting the blade down and walking over, "Are you on leave or something?" He got a good look at Hadvar. "Shor's bones boy, what happened to you? Are you in some kind of trouble?"

"Shh," Hadvar spoke looking around to make sure no one heard, "Keep your voice down, I'm fine. We should go inside and talk."

"What's going on?" Alvor asked confused, "And who's he?"

"He's a friend," Hadvar said quietly, "He saved my life in fact. Come on, I'll explain everything when we go inside."

"Okay okay," Alvor spoke, "Come on in. Sigrid will get you something to eat, and you can tell me all about it." We walked in. "Sigrid! We have company." A Nord woman came from downstairs.

"Hadvar," She said, "We've been so worried about you! Come, you two must be hungry. Sit down and I'll get you something to eat." Hadvar and I obeyed while she looked at the shelf for some food.

"Now boy," Alvor said, "What's the big mystery? Why do you two look like you've been down arguing with a bear in a cave?" Oh the irony.

"I don't know where to start…." Hadvar spoke sighing. "Okay then. You know I was assigned to General Tullius' Guard. We were stopped in Helgen, when we were attacked….." He looked at me. "…by a Dragon."

Alvor looked at him and me as if we had sprouted two heads. "A what?" He asked as if he didn't hear us right. "A dragon? That's…..ridiculous. You two aren't drunk are you boys?"

"Husband…." Sigrid said as she had now moved over to a hearth. "Let him tell his story."

"Not much more to tell," Hadvar spoke, "This dragon flew over and just wrecked the whole place. Mass confusion." He sighed. "I don't know if anyone else got out alive, and I doubt I'd have made it out myself if it wasn't for my friend here. I need to get back to Solitude and spread the word as to what has happened. I thought you could help us out a little. Food, supplies, and a place to stay for my friend here."

"Of course!" Alvor spoke as if he was trying to decide whether or not to believe Hadvar's story, "Any friend of Hadvar's is a friend of mine. I'd be glad to help in any way I can. But I need your assistance."

"Hold on Uncle Alvor," Hadvar interjected, "He's had it rougher than I have. Give him a break."

"It's okay," I replied, "I'll help anyway I can as well."

"But your memory," Hadvar said, "Shouldn't you try and figure out who you are at least?"

"I'm doing myself no good not getting anything accomplished," I replied, "I'm here for a reason, but until I figure out what that reason is, I'll do what I have to in the meantime."

"You've lost your memory?" Sigrid asked.

"Yes," I replied, "Apparently I was struck over the head when I came across an Imperial ambush trying to capture Ulfric Stormcloak. I don't remember anything before that. My name, why I was coming, growing up…..there's nothing there."

"Well," Alvor said, "I'm sorry about that."

"Don't be," I replied shaking my head, "there's nothing that can be done about it now. How about we get down to business. What do you need?"

"If what you and Hadvar say is true," Alvor spoke, "The Jarl needs to know about this. He needs to know that Riverwood is defenseless. If a Dragon is on the loose we'll be in more danger than anyone else. We need to get word to Jarl Balgruuf in Whiterun to send whatever soldiers he can. If you do that, I'll be in your debt."

"Okay then," I replied nodding, "I'll leave first thing in the morning." For some reason, I felt a strange sense of pride. Why was I doing this? Why was I helping people with this Dragon business. Oh yeah, that dragon was monstrous and the same thing could happen somewhere else. Plus, it didn't feel right to leave everyone defenseless like this. I was doing the right thing and that was that. "But I've got a question."

"What is it?"

"Is there any way I can trade something for this legion armor?" I asked, "I don't want a rebel thinking I'm with the Legion in the offshoot I come across them again."

Alvor laughed. "Sure," He replied, "Come with me."

"I think it suits you," Hadvar commented.

"Maybe if I joined the Legion," I replied to him, "But for now, I….need to figure things out for myself. I'm not joining the Stormcloaks, that much I know of. But as a soldier? I don't know if I can cut it."

"I understand," Hadvar replied, "If you change your mind, go to Solitude and join there."

"I'll keep that in mind," I spoke.

"Let's get you out of that gear," Alvor spoke up as we walked outside to the smithy. "It won't be much, but it'll be a fair trade. Here. Studded armor, iron gauntlets, iron boots, Banded Iron Shield, and an iron helmet. This should keep the rebels from trying to associate you with the Legion."

"Thank you, my friend," I replied. It didn't take long for me to get into my new armor, though I done so in a storage room in the smithy. I had to admit, it was lighter weight and less defensible than the Imperial armor I was wearing, but it was less conspicuous. "But one thing eludes me. If I am going to leave in the morning, I need to know how to get to Whiterun from here."

"Just cross the river North of town," Alvor replied, "Follow the road North and you'll see it. Whiterun is in the middle of the fields. Once you get to the crossroads of the fields, you'll need to follow the left road. After that, any major roads that intersect, make sure you take the first right. Then you'll be right at the gates."

"Alright," I replied nodding, "And as for Jarl Balgruuf. What can you tell me about him?"

"He rules Whiterun Hold," Alvor answered, "A good man, perhaps a bit over-cautious, but these are dangerous times. So far, he's managed to stay out of the war, but I'm afraid it can't last now."

"Which side does he favor?" I asked.

"I don't think he likes Ulfric or Elisif much," He replied, "Who can blame him? But I have no doubt he'll prove loyal to the Empire yet. He's no traitor."

"Who's Elisif?"

"Ah," He said, "I forgot about your memory problem. Jarl Elisif I should say, only because she was married to Jarl Torygg when he was murdered. Ulfric murdered Torygg you know. Walked right into his palace in Solitude and killed him. Shouted him to death, if you believe the stories. That's what started this war. The Empire couldn't ignore that. Once the Jarl's start killing each other, we're back to the bad old days."

I was piecing together all of this, not really comprehending the entirety of my heritage or history. It would seem that I have a lot of catching up to do. Not wanting to waste any of the time I had today, I asked Alvor if I could help him in his forge.

"There's not much you can do for me today I'm afraid," Alvor spoke, "But talk with Gerdur and Hod. They always need more help at the Mill."

"Alright," I spoke nodding.

"Excuse me?" Someone said from the South entrance. It was a man in blue robes, a Breton to be exact.

"Yes?" Alvor asked, "How can I help you?"

"I'm looking to buy some spell books," The Breton said, "Is there anywhere in town that sells them?"

"Lucan might," Alvor replied, "He own's the Riverwood Trader right across the street."

"Thanks," The Breton replied, "Oh. By the way, did you all see something strange earlier today?"

"You mean like magic?" I asked.

"Uh…. yeah," The Breton replied, "Something like that. There was something that was large, that I saw further back on the road. And a giant..." He trailed off, like he couldn't figure out how to put his thoughts into words.

"Hmm a giant?" Alvor spoke, "They mostly stay North of us. But they're not unheard of in the southern parts of Skyrim. I'd stay clear of it if I were you. You don't want to anger one of those."

"Yeah…." The Breton spoke, "I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the advice. I best be getting to the Riverwood Trader and seeing if I can find some books and warmer clothes."

"See you." Alvor spoke.

Hod and Gerdur were at their mill, in the middle of a discussion about nearby trees, though, they immediately put me to work. So I chopped wood for the better part of the day. When I turned in for the day, Hod gave me around five hundred gold for my service. I started to walk back onto the main road from the south entrance of Riverwood when I saw four to five blue armor-clad individuals. Stormcloaks. I kept calm as I put on my helmet to disguise my face before one of them in particular, noticed me. It was Ralof. I casually walked by the group of battered stormcloaks before heading into Alvor's home.

"We've got Stormcloaks," I said quietly, but with urgency.

Hadvar dropped his wooden spoon into his bowl tensed. "Where?"

"Going over to the Mill," I said, "You're never going to believe this Hadvar. Ralof is with them."

"Gerdur is his sister," Alvor spoke up then looked at his nephew, "Don't do anything stupid Hadvar. There's four of them and one of you."

"Two if it comes down to it," I spoke up.

"You're forgetting," Alvor said, "Gerdur and Hod would defend Ralof. Plus, it's not favorable odds. The whole town will be fighting each other if a skirmish breaks out. Hadvar you need to lay low."

"But…"

"I agree," I concurred, "He didn't recognize me. But you on the other hand. They'll try to gut you or take you as prisoner. Either way, it's not a favorable situation. Chances are, they're here for the same reason we are. To take a breather. How they got away from Helgen alive, I do not know. When they move on, give them a day. Then go to Solitude. That's the safest way to proceed. I'll leave first light in the morning, but I'm not about to go out there with the blues walking around. So I'm kind of in the same boat as you friend."

"That's not a bad idea," Alvor said, "I know stuffing you in the house all day isn't what you had in mind…. but it's the safest. Plus, you can inform General Tullius that the Stormcloaks got by."

"If he even made it out," Hadvar grumbled.

"He made it out," Alvor said, "I'm sure of it. For now, Sigrid?"

"Hmm?" Sigrid asked from the hearth.

"I need you to do my friend here a solid," Alvor said handing her a piece of paper, "While he's staying low as well, do you mind going over to the Riverwood Trader and get these supplies?"

"Sure," Sigrid replied, "Just don't let the stew burn."

"I won't." Sigrid left immediately.

"What did you send her to get?"

"You'll need a rucksack," Alvor replied, "Can't send you out there with provisions in your arms and no way to use your blade. Plus, a sleeping bag in case you end up sleeping outside."

"That makes sense," I replied nodding, "Thank you." I slept down in the basement on a pile of hay just as Hadvar had done. I never knew how much I'd enjoy sleep until then. My dream though, that was another thing. I dreamt that I was back on the prisoner cart being hauled into Helgen again. This time, there was no Dragon. Just the executioner. My head came off.

I woke up the next morning and prepared myself for the journey to Whiterun. I did a double check on my belongings. I had my armor, my rucksack, my banded Iron Shield, two Iron swords, an iron dagger, holsters for all of them, an iron axe, a longbow, iron arrows in a quiver, and some rations. I left before the sun came up. Riverwood was quiet save the river and the mill's wheel. There was hardly any candlelight except for the lanterns that hung from beside the doors. I walked towards the North gate, noting my surroundings. Riverwood was bigger than it appeared to be, though the Inn and Mill took up a lot of the space. I was about to walk by when I noted four dark skinned people walk out the Inn. A Redguard mother and her children. My eyes widened. They were at Helgen!

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Yes?" The Redguard woman replied.

"I know this is going to sound strange and all…." Another person walked out the Inn. It was the mage from yesterday. "But were you at Helgen yesterday?"

"Why do you want to know?" The woman said putting her hand on her curved sword.

"I mean no harm," I quickly said, "I was there too. I thought I saw you there."

The woman sighed looking relieved. "Yes we were there," She said, "But we got out right before that dragon attacked. Most people won't believe us. The Innkeeper was definitely skeptical. And the local drunk thought I was drunk…. or touched by Sheogorath." It wasn't long before I realized that we were all walking the same direction out of Riverwood.

"I saw it too," The Breton piped up, "But I wasn't in the city. I was on a carriage that was going towards Whiterun when I saw it. The carriage was commandeered by a man known as General Tullius, some legionnaires and a very important high elf in white armor."

"That's why you were acting so strange when you got into town," I said, "You looked nervous about something. I thought it was just a giant."

"It was both," The Breton said, "I didn't want to seem mad, but I saw both. I didn't think you'd believe me if I said something about a Dragon. Who would? But the strange thing about the giant was that it was talking to an Orc! And took orders from him."

"An Orc?" I asked.

"Yeah." The Breton said, "He was in green steel armor."

"Wait…." I said, "I saw him yesterday too."

"You did?"

"Yeah, around midafternoon," I replied, "He was coming out of the Riverwood Trader and went out the South gate."

"Then he must've been moving pretty fast then." The Breton replied, "Because not long before that, he was on the road between Falkreath and Riverwood going into the woods while the giant crossed the lake below."

"We saw the green man too!" The youngest child piped up, "He was in the Inn buying bread when we got here!"

"Small world huh?" I asked.

"Very." The Redguard replied. She stopped in her tracks, her oldest boy bumping into her rear end. "It appears we're heading in the same direction."

"So we are," The Breton replied, "I assume everyone is going to Whiterun?"

"We are," The Redguard replied.

"I am too." I answered, "and since we all are. Might as well travel together."

"I see no problem with that," The Redguard said.

"I guess this calls for introductions," The Breton said, "My name is Mathieu."

"I'm Myra," The Redguard woman spoke, "These are my children Rizo, Kira, and Silas."

I didn't introduce myself at first. But when a little Redguard girl asked after a brief silence, I was compelled to. "What about you mister?"

"I…." I said, "Don't know my name little one. At the moment I don't remember anything before yesterday's events."

"You're amnesic?" Myra asked.

"Yes," I replied nodding, "I can only tell you what I heard from the rebels. Which I am not one of. A rebel named Ralof told me that I was walking towards a place called Blackwater when I walked up on an ambush and took a club to the head because I was trying to escape from an ambush. The only reason I know I wasn't one of them, was because Ralof said that he had never seen me before and I didn't wear the Stormcloak uniform. I met Ulfric too, the leader of the rebellion. He didn't elaborate on anything I had done, nor had he even acknowledged my existence. I escaped execution because of that Dragon. The Imperials were too caught up in ending the rebellion to care about me and some horse thief. We were both set to be executed because of that."

Myra put her hand on the handle of her blade again. "That is…." She said, "Either brave or stupid for you to come forward with that kind of information."

I shrugged. "Things happen," I spoke, "I don't know why, but I escaped with my life with an Imperial who we both helped each other escape Helgen. He knew I didn't belong on that cart and was innocent but couldn't do anything without being insubordinate. As far as he is concerned, I earned my pardon."

"So then what are you going to do now?" Mathieu asked, "Try and figure out who you are?"

"Yeah," I replied, "But first, I promised the Blacksmith that I'd warn the Jarl about the Dragon. The last place I saw it flying was over the Nordic Ruin overlooking Riverwood and going into the clouds."

"I see," Mathieu said, "What will you do after that?"

"I dunno," I replied casually, "Find some work I guess."

"That's why we're traveling to Whiterun," Myra spoke, "I'm looking for work and trying to support my children. A good life is what they need after our lives in Hammerfell went to oblivion."

"What happened?" I asked.

"Our daddy died." Kira said innocently.

"And our brother." Rizo mumbled.

"Sorry." I said immediately feeling bad for the family.

"It's fine," Myra said sighing, "My kids are….still dealing with it. What about you Mathieu? Why are you travelling to Whiterun?"

"I'm actually stopping in Whiterun temporarily so I can get a carriage to Windhelm," Mathieu spoke, "After that, I'm taking one to Winterhold. I want to take up studies at the College of Winterhold."

"Do you know any spells?" I asked.

"Nothing other than conjure Wolf Familiar," Mathieu replied, "Back in High Rock, I wasn't allowed to use magic because the Thalmor declared martial law to stamp out Talos worshippers. They declared that magic wasn't allowed to be used while their occupation was there as it could distract them or be used against them. They never left. So, I did. Plus, my family wasn't the most tolerant towards me. They didn't like me much for some reason or another. So I left. Now I can go and live my dreams and study magic like I always wanted."

"That's what everyone should be able to do," I replied nodding, "Follow your dreams."

The rest of the walk down the path was uneventful save the occasional wildlife. The path winded down curving down the slope for easier traversing. There were several deer and rabbits crossing the road, even a wolf chasing a fox. But after four hours, we finally came out of the forested area of the valley and were walking into the tundra. Coming down the hilly road, we could see part of the tundra. There was a bridge over the river near one of the many waterfalls that flowed down from Riverwood. On either side was a wooden watchtower and a few guards. Across the river was a stone hamlet that looked to be built into the mountainside. There were a few guards and an almost unnoticeable road sign pointed in its direction reading, "Aeldsten." We moved passed it, knowing that we were meant to visit Whiterun. I paid extra attention to the vegetation, trying to eye up some potential alchemy ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn't know Skyrim's Flora all too well. All around a large hill were farmland and grazing wildlife. On the large hill was nothing but a fortress wall that had been tested in battles before, all the way around it, with a city in between. Atop the tallest point of the large hill was a large castle-like Nordic Mansion. The city was huge. Bigger than anything I was expecting.

"Would ya look at that…" Mathieu said breathlessly.

"Whoaaa," Silas said.

"Cool!" Rizo said.

"It's pretty Mamma!" Kira said, "Are we going there?"

"Yes, little one," Myra replied, "We're going there."

"First major crossroads we come up on," I said, "We take a left. That's what Alvor said."

"Who's Alvor?" Silas asked.

"He's the blacksmith I mentioned earlier," I replied as we continued to walk, "the one who asked me to get the Jarl to assist Riverwood."

"Oh." He said in an innocent sort of way. When we got to the crossroads, there were Hold guards conversing at a campfire. There were stone pillars that had seen wear and tear. In the directions of North and East, were bridges. Both passed over a river, though the Eastern bridge passed over the rapids that flowed from Riverwood. Each side was fortified with wooden spike walls and a wooden watch tower. There were Whiterun banners on each pillar. Obviously, this was a checkpoint. There were about ten of these guards. Each of them wore chainmail, with steel breastplates and greaves. The pauldrons were either covered in chainmail or scaled heavy leather. Under the armor was tan clothing. Their helmets were classic and ranging from enclosed conical steel armored helmets to the round with open face plates. They all wore tan cloaks with Whiterun's sigil on it. Some of the guards had shields with a stallion on it. Their weaponry was made of steel, having Warhammers, Greatswords, swords, and bows.

We followed the road west, that stretched through the farmlands and Tundra. There was a small stream that followed the road on the Whiterun side. There were buildings spotting this side of the road as well. Eventually, we came up on a little hamlet consisting of a Meadery and a few homes. The Meadery was named Honningbrew Meadery. Further up the road, they passed more farmland. Everything was tranquil, until something caught their attention. There were loud bellows and stomps. In the farmland, was a very large man that was at least fifteen feet tall. He barely had clothing on, but he used a tree trunk as a club.

"No way," Mathieu said, "That can't be the giant. It's too big." I remembered him saying that he saw an Orc with a giant the day before.

There were three warriors fighting the giant, dodging its massive strikes with the club. That was until it managed to pick up and throw one of them, kick the other. That last one standing was a woman with a bow, who was firing arrows at it.

The Giant advanced on her. My mind started to race pulling out my bow and nocking an arrow. "What are you doing?" Myra said alarmed.

"Hide." I said, "That Giant is decimating those three. I'm surprised the other two aren't dead." I released the arrow. It hit the giant in the arm. The giant growled yanking the arrow out before looking at me.

I ran at the overgrown man switching out with my sword. What in oblivion am I thinking? "Julianos be with me." I heard Mathieu mutter. He cast a spell, summoning a near spectral wolf that ran alongside me.

"This is crazy." Myra said, "Children. Hide behind those boulders right there. Stay out of sight."

"But mama!" Kira said.

"I'll be okay little ones," Myra hollered, "Now GO!"

She easily caught up with me brandishing both curved swords. I'd have to ask her what kind they were later. In sync, we split up. The wolf latching onto the giant's leg, biting into it. The Giant panicked trying to shake the summon off. Myra went off to the right, easily avoided its club. I went to run right at the thing. The club came down at me. My instinct should to have been to dodge. Instead, it was to raise my shield. And I did. The impact was so harsh, but the shield withstood it. The ring of the club hitting the shield echoed off the field. I should have been crushed. But I wasn't. I don't know how. But I do know that it shocked the giant just as much as I was. An arrow found its way in the giant's neck, curtesy of the Nord woman. It then fell over due to Myra cutting right through the giant's leg. The thud was loud and heavy. I moved out the way just in time. It fell to the ground barely breathing. I ended its suffering with a stab to the head.

The two warriors that had been knocked aside came up to us, along with the last warrior. They seemed to gawk at me. Everyone did. "How did you…?" Myra asked.

"What?" I asked confused.

"You just took a full blow from a Giant's Club." The female warrior who was knocked away by the giant spoke, "And look perfectly fine." She was noticeably smaller than the other two. She was definitely softer than the other two, not built for combat, yet. She was an Imperial around Myra's size, though with less muscle. She had soft features on her face with dark brown straight hair, and grey eyes. Her armor was a combination of fur and scaled leather. She had red warpaint under her eyes going down her cheekbones vertically.

I was the only one that matched the two Nord Warriors in height. I had to admit though, the male warrior had more muscle than I did, like he casually lifted boulders for exercise. He had long slightly curled jet-black hair and green eyes, with a full clean cut beard. His armor was made from some sort of steel padded by black fur. By this time, Mathieu, Silas, Rizo, and Kira had made their way to us.

"You're strong," The large Nord warrior said, "You should come to Jorrvaskr and become a Companion."

"You three fought bravely," The larger female warrior said, "It'd be an honor to fight by your sides as Companions." She was a large woman, though not unhealthily. She was as tall I as I was, having the muscle of a woman-warrior. If she wasn't a Nord woman with muscle, one could mistake her stature similar to a High Elf. She was beautiful under her warpaint however, sporting long brown hair, and green eyes. There was something about her that seemed…..wild. Same with the male Nord. Both were vastly different than their other companion member. It was like something about them was dialed up to eleven compared to a one to ten scale. I couldn't put my finger on it.

"Companions?" I asked.

"Local Mercenary group," Mathieu commented, "They've got more honor in their craft than most."

"We are a brotherhood of warriors," The woman said, "Where shield-brothers and sisters have each other's backs. We fight and carry out all our contracts with honor….so long as the coin is right."

"I see," I replied, "Can anyone join?"

"It's not for us to decide," The woman said, "Kodlak Whitemane has that Honor. He is the Harbinger of the Companions, the strongest and wisest of us. If you wish to join, go to Jorrvaskr, the hall of the Companions over in Whiterun. I'm Aela by the way, Aela the Huntress. That there is Farkas and Ria. Ria's our newest member."

"Nice to meet you," Ria said meekly.

"Hello," Farkas greeted us as he cut off the giant's large toes while Ria tied rope to the creature's legs.

"And who might you all be?" Aela asked, "and sorry to pry, but you're an interesting lot. I'm just curious as to what you all are doing together."

"We're all together by happenstance. I guess at Whiterun we're splitting up. But I am Mathieu," The aspiring mage spoke, "I am traveling to the College of Winterhold to study there. I want to learn everything I can about the Arcane Arts."

"My name is Myra," The Redguard said, "I am looking for work at Whiterun. These are my children Rizo, Kira, and Silas."

"I'm going to be strong so I can take on Giants all by myself!" Rizo said, "Can I become a companion!?"

"Me too!?" Kira said, "I want to learn to fight!"

"We are looking for new members," Farkas said dusting his hands off, "Let's see….." He looked at the kids, "A little training and they'll be strong enough to come with us."

"They're much too young Farkas," Aela said, "Though if their mother joins, they could be honorary members. But that is up to Kodlak Whitemane."

"I'd have to think about it," Myra asked, "It's been so long since I've used a blade."

"But momma!" Kira said, "You're the Armed Fury!"

"Kira shush," Myra said embarrassedly.

"Armed Fury you say?" Aela spoke, "I've heard of the Armed Fury. A nomad of the Redguard who was said to be so skilled with a sword, that none who locked blades with her, lived to tell the tale."

"Exaggerated," Myra said offhandedly.

"How so?"

"One time I met a man who could go toe to toe with me," She replied, "He was the father of my children."

"He died," Silas said glumly.

"Our condolences," Ria commented.

"It was a while ago," Myra assured them, "It's been difficult. That's why we left the sands of Hammerfell to come to Skyrim. I want to raise them to be what they wish. To give them a better life than what we had."

"I see," Aela said, "I'm sure you will all find it here. If you wish to join us, speak with Kodlak at Jorrvaskr in Whiterun." She turned to me. "And what of you?"

"I'm afraid they have more to tell than I," I replied, "I do not know my name at the moment. I'm an amnesiac."

"Amnesiac?" Farkas commented.

"It means he's lost his memory Ice Brains," Aela spoke. Ria laughed.

"I know what it means!" Farkas grunted folding his arms, "you were saying?"

"I wound up in Helgen," I said, "and escaped."

"Escaped what?"

"The Dragon."

"A Dragon?" Aela said in disbelief, "I haven't heard of a Dragon. They're extinct."

"Well, this one wasn't," Myra spoke up, "It's very much alive. Scales and spikes black as night. Massive wings. Red glowing eyes. We barely made it out before it started attacking Helgen. It destroyed everything."

"That must be why the guards are all on edge," Ria said, "The Jarl sent out twice as much on patrol as he usually does. They were talking about locking the city down when we left, remember? Only a select few could leave. But for something like a Dragon? How would one even fight one?"

"That's why I am going to the Jarl," I replied, "Riverwood has no detachment of guards. It's in the most immediate danger and closest settlement to Helgen. The town blacksmith asked me to go to him."

"I see," Aela spoke as she grabbed one of the ropes and tugging it, "They're secure enough. Severio said that they'll deal with the rest once we fell the giant as long as we tied ropes to its limbs for his horses to drag away. Let us leave. The others in Jorrvaskr will want to hear about Helgen and that Dragon." With that we left the fields of the farm.

The attention had been taken off of me. It was actually preferred at the moment. What they said before, about me taking the brunt of a Giant's club head on with only my shield, was getting to me. I noticed some differences between me and the others. I wasn't talking about pure racial differences such as skin tone or physical appearance. It was like the more I was involved in something, like combat. The better I adapted. Take for instance, fighting my way out of Helgen's Keep with Hadvar. I was rarely tired and the longer I kept fighting, the more strength I seemed to gain; the more prowess I gained. It was like years of fighting experience were coming back to me. But the thing was, half the time I didn't know what I could do or endure until the heat of conflict. I'd have to figure it out. I was lost. I needed to figure out things myself.

As we walked down the road, farmland became more compact and with more buildings. With more buildings, came more population. There were market stalls everywhere along the road in front of farmland and houses. When the fork in the road came up, it was of two paths. One led west showing more farmland and a few homes. The other led to the gates of the city. There was one Inn perched on a hill wedged between the right of the road at the fork from us. We weaved through the common folk, some of them scurrying out the way to let us through, though probably because Aela's presence and willing to knock into anyone. She was a woman on a mission, and that mission was to get through the crowd of Whiterun citizens. I could barely hear Farkas and Mathieu talking behind us, conversing something about the giant toes.

"Stay close children," I heard Myra say as we made our way through the sea of people.

"Kind of crowded, isn't it?" Mathieu commented.

"This is a normal day in Whiterun," Ria spoke up, "Inside the city walls is almost as bad. Though it's more tamed. There's a reason the city is known as the Trading Hub of Skyrim."

I don't know what it was, but my senses were dialed up at this point. It was like I was noticing everything, almost like I was hyperaware. The different people, the architecture of the area, the different wares being sold; everything. Nords may have made up most of the population, but there were several races in the crowd. Even Nords had different cultures. There were some Nords dressed as Barbarians with furs covering their nether-regions, and having rucksacks made of leathers. They carried Axes of different sizes. These Nords stood a few inches taller than other of their kin. There was a party of seven of them. They were much different than other Nords I had encountered thus far. They were less armored and more barbaric in a sense. These were Nords that no one wanted to cross. They just gave me that kind of feeling. There were various Nords who were part of old families or clans, each with their own unique armors.

Other races in Whiterun were here as well, but none were as numerous as Nords. There were Bretons, Imperials, and Redguards busily weaving in and out of the crowd looking at the wares of the merchants. The closer we got to the outer gate, the easier it was to see the defenses. The wear and tear of Whiterun's walls was visible, possibly from previous sieges. It looked as if the Jarl was in the process of rebuilding Whiterun's defenses as there were various masons upon the walls alongside guards. It looked as if the masons were just beginning rebuilding one of the outer gate towers and battlements along the entrance. Above the outer gate there was the beginnings of a wooden structure being built, likely a hall with arrowslits and portholes. There were various Whiterun guards posted at the either side of the entrance, with some equipped with bows atop the battlements that were having the wooden defenses built upon them peering down into the crowd. Whiterun banners and flags were everywhere. As we passed through the outer gates, I noticed more market stalls on the right side of the road, with a guard house. On the left was stables for city officials. There were horses of the finest steeds there, being Palomino and Buckskin horses. The tack in the various stalls were saddles with horse armor.

As we walked the road that winded up the slope and between the city's fortifications, I could see that the walls were still being built upon. Wooden walkways lined the walls where there hadn't been battlements for friendly guards. There was the occasional sentry tower but most of the battlements had been wooden spikes. That was until the walls that separated the road to Whiterun divided the city's buildings began. It seemed that it was more fortified than the western road wall. My guess was that it was too steep and too high for any attackers. Around halfway up the road before the bend, was a stream that flowed out a sewer grate, with a single bridge. By that point, market stalls became tents or storage areas. There was an occasional building, but it was more likely to house guards or the occasional townsfolk. As the road looped around, it was divided by more battlements and defenses. There was a tower that was in the bend that was prepared specifically for dropping boulders or burning oil. Like the rest of the road, it was in the prime location where archers could rain down arrows during a siege. In the bend in the elevating road was a few portcullises. One had to be reached by stairs that ran along a building, while the other was nestled behind a sentry post. Both were closed, with a few guards standing in front of them. I could see guards atop the wall walking into the area behind the portcullis, however. My guess was that there was another way into the section of the city from inside. The only way into the city unless the use of a rope ladder from above, was now a drawbridge and iron portcullis ahead. The drawbridge was flanked by two towers and battlements with arrowslits. It seemed that the crowd had dwindled down to merely a few people at this point.

This was the front doors of the city, protected by massive wooden doors and another portcullis. Once again, two towers flanked each side, protected by arrowslits. I made sure to look around this area. It was full of more storage, carts, and equipment for the city guard. From the outside, the walls were deceptive. From the fork in the road outside of the Whiterun walls where all the venders were located, it looked like the walls were taller than they appeared. In reality, from up here, you could tell that the walls were merely built to enforce a much steeper climb, forcing one to take the road. The battlements were just built from this height level. You could see everything down below from up here. It seemed that the area here was the central hub to access the many different battlements surrounding the fortified road such as the front gates, the central battlements, and the upper walkways of the defenses.

"Halt," One of the guards spoke, "The City is closed due to talk with dragons about. Official or guild business only. Aela, you and your shield siblings are permitted to pass."

"Thank you," Aela spoke, "I would let them pass as well, guardsman. They have business with the Jarl."

"We do," I spoke up, "We were all at Helgen when that Dragon attacked. I am here to request aid for Riverwood."

"You all were there?" The guard said in surprise, "So the rumors are true? There really is a dragon out there?"

"I'm afraid so."

"Very well," The guard replied, "You may pass." He walked over to the gatehouse where there was a guard sitting down on the other side of the barred port. There wasn't anything else in the room save the chair, table, and two winches. One was for the portcullis and the other was for something else. He started to wind it up, the sound of something on the other side of the thick wooden gates scraping. A reinforcement maybe? Two guards opened the gates, revealing a magnificent city.

The first thing that was noticeable was the wide street with buildings on either side. We were in the shadow of the city gatehouse. Iron gates halted anyone from walking anywhere but forward across a small stone bridge that crossed over the city drainage. Immediately on the right of the street was the Blacksmith's shop known as Warmaiden's, complete with benches, whetstones, forge, and smelter. Moss hung from the overhang of the smithy building. Across the street was the guard barracks. Atop of it was a sheltered storage area marked with an East Empire Trading Company sign.

In front of Warmaiden's were two people. One was a Nord wearing a sort of armor that was reminiscent of Imperial Legion armor. It had the same Fauld design but otherwise the cuirass was silver and shiny. He had the same greaves, boots, and gauntlets as some of the lighter equipped legion members. He was bulky, though not similar to a soldier. He had unkempt red hair with a similar styled beard. "We'll pay whatever it takes Adrienne," He said, "But we must have more swords for the Legion. The stormcloaks ambushed a supply caravan of theirs in retaliation to capturing that bastard, Ulfric Stormcloak." He said the rebel leaders name with so much venom it was practically dripping off the man's tongue.

The Imperial woman wore red clothing long sleeved clothing with a black leather apron. She was a thin, pretty woman having her long brown hair tied back, darker skin and smut all over her and her clothes. "I just can't fill an order that size that quickly on my own," She said sighing, "Look Idolof, you're asking me to forge new Imperial weapons and forego my other clients in a timeframe of the next two weeks. Do you have any idea how long it takes to forge a new sword of Imperial quality? It takes an entire day for only one to be ready if I mold and temper it. Not to mention the different materials. Each sword will require me to have two steel ingots, an iron ingot, leather, and wood. Not to mention getting the molds exactly correct. But you two hundred swords. You realize you're asking for a lot, right?"

"Can it be done?" Idolof asked, "We can take care of shipping and handling for you. We have a deal with the East Empire Company."

"Not in that timeframe," Adrienne said, "I appreciate your confidence in my abilities and willingness to compensate for my craft, but have you thought about other smiths? Why don't you swallow that pride of yours and ask Eorlund Grey-mane to help you?"

While keeping my ears listening to the conversation, I looked around as we began to pass the two. Two the left was a road that led up a set of stairs, a raised portcullis at the top. It seemed a wall separated this part of the city from another. There were several buildings on the right side of the said street, leading up to the portcullis, the first being on the corner adjacent to Warmaiden's was a tavern known as, "The Drunken Huntsman." This tavern was on an elevated part of the city, that ran above the main road, like the other buildings on that side of the main street. The entirety buildings of the left side of main street were built upon a terrace. The tavern was built like the rest of the city's buildings, only it had distinct features that made it look foreign. Most of that was in the form of plants, Moss and vines grew all over the building. The only other noticeable feature of the building was the balcony on it. It also had a balcony on its second floor as well as a patio built to the terrace edge for outside dining or gatherings.

"Ha!" The annoyed Nord said folding his arms, "I'd sooner bend my knee to Ulfric Stormcloak!" He sighed, "No. Eorlund Gray-Mane would never make steel for the legion. Even if it could help their clan out of poverty."

"Poverty is strong word for one of the great clans of Whiterun Idolof," Adrienne said sighing, "Fine. I'll do it. We can write up a business contract after I do my figures of cost. Getting the materials, preparing molds, racks, and storage, quality, and labor…this is going to be expensive for you Battle-Born."

"Avenicci," He replied almost as if to purposely use her last name, "Coin isn't a problem. Can you do it?"

"Yes." Adrienne said, "The timeframe you want the swords prepared for is too short. Don't expect a miracle."

"Very well," Idolof replied as we got out of earshot. There was an empty home on a lot surrounded by road. There was a wooden sign on the door that said, for sale. The house was small, quaint, and had a balcony. There was a dilapidated fence around the left side of the house with unkempt brush inside. Other than that, the house was perfectly fine. There were many more homes down the street between the home for sale and Warmaiden's. There were probably six more homes on either side of the road we walked before we came up on the town inner market. The Inner market was a circle of different stores and stands with a very stylish Inn as the most interesting building. The Bannered Mare, as it was aptly called, had not one, but two outdoor patios, and a balcony. It was perched up on a terrace, various market stalls dotted in front of it. There were a few shops, some being on different streets, but the two most noticeable were Arcadia's Cauldron and Belethor's General Good Store. The group weaved in and out of the crowd.

"Before we continue," Myra said halting the group at a flight of stairs, "I am going to rent a room in the Inn."

"There won't be any need for that," Farkas said, "If you're joining us."

"What of my children?" Myra said, "They're young and I will not burden your guild's halls with three unruly children."

"You think your children would be the first to wander the halls?" Aela questioned, "No. Farkas and his twin brother were once children who were taken in by the Companions. Jergen fostered them and was a Shield-Brother. Before you make any decisions, come with us and speak with Kodlak. That is, if you wish to become a Companion?"

"I won't lie," Myra said, "Working with the Companions sounds enticing. I'll give it a shot."

"Does that mean we can learn how to fight too mother?" Rizo asked.

"Yes son," Myra said, "you will learn how to fight."

"YES!" He yelled getting the attention of several people in the Market. They soon went back to their mingling and shopping. I huffed slightly, amused with his eagerness.

"He'll fit in just fine," Ria said laughing.

We ascended the stairs, going through a portcullis, like the one near the Drunken Huntsman. There were two market stalls on either side of the road at the top of the stairs before a roundabout road and stream that surrounded a large dead tree. There was a circular Arbor that surrounded the tree that was built on the road. Homes surrounded the arbor's manmade stream. Some were grander than others. There may have been two or three homes that weren't extravagant manors. The manors of Whiterun were all west of the large dead tree. There was a large statue of a warrior holding a sword as if it was about to stab it in the ground. A serpent was under it. Below the statue was a man who was preaching of the God Talos. The group walked around the tree, with the Companions and the Redguard family halting at the first footbridge between the statue of Talos and a nearby home. There was a flight of stairs ascending several terraces full of homes. At the top was, what looked like a capsized ship repurposed into a mead hall. Above that, Northeast of the mead hall was a large statue of a bird of prey with glowing eyes and smoke coming from its beak. There was a glow that was under its body, which I guessed was embers or fire. It was a mystical sight to behold.

"Jorrvaskr is atop these stairs," Aela said as Farkas and Ria continued up them, "Myra. If you wish to join us, follow us." She looked at me and Matthieu. "Noble warriors and mage." She beat her fist over her heart. "It has been an honor fighting alongside you. Should you find yourselves in Whiterun, tales of your adventures would be welcome in the home of The Companions."

"It's been an honor," I spoke nodding.

"Likewise," Matthieu agreed, "Until we meet again."

"Aye." Aela replied.

I looked at Myra. "It's been a pleasure getting to know you four," I said to her, "Take great care Myra. I hope we meet again."

"And you as well," Myra replied nodding, "You too Matthieu."

"Same to you," Matthieu said, "I wish you the best."

"When we see you again," Rizo said, "I want to be as strong as you are! I want to be able to take a hit from a giants club too!" Everyone laughed at that.

"Listen to your mother," I replied with a grin, "And protect her. If we meet again, tell me all about your adventures and what you've learned. Okay?"

"Okay!"

Silas looked at Matthieu. "I hope you learn a lot of magic!" He said to the Breton, "I want to learn some day too!"

"Hmm," Matthieu replied, "When you're old enough to start practicing, I'm sure the college will love to have you there. But you got to stay with your mother and learn how to defend yourself first. Okay?"

"….okay." the young boy said like Matthieu crushed his dreams.

"Hey." Matthieu said trying to salvage the boy's mood and crouching down to one knee and putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, "Don't grow up too fast Silas. You've got a lot to learn. Magic isn't going anywhere. It's everywhere and it grows. I don't know much about it myself. But I want to learn. These things take time."

"Good luck at the college," Silas said.

"Good luck learning how to fight," Mathieu replied, "Maybe you can be a battlemage someday."

Silas gasped in excitement and realization, as if the idea hadn't crossed his mind.

I noticed that Kira stared at her brothers, almost jealously, as if she wanted some kind of attention. "And what about you?" I asked her, "What do you want to be when you're older?"

Her eyes brightened up. "I want to learn how to be an archer and fighter," She replied smiling.

"Well," I said, "It looks like you're in the right place. I'm sure The Companions have just what you're looking for. Next time we meet, I want to see if you can put an arrow between a dummy's eyes."

"Dummies don't have eyes, do they?" Kira asked curiously.

"I will draw them on one." I quipped. She laughed.

I stood up. "Farewell," Myra spoke to Matthieu and I before turning to her children, "Come children. Let's see what awaits us." The four ascended the stairs with Aela. I didn't know why, but I had sort of grown slightly attached to the four Redguards. There was something about them that I liked. The same with Mathieu. It was like there was something telling me that there was something special about them, particularly Myra and Matthieu. I couldn't put my finger on it though.

"Well," I said sighing before looking at Matthieu, "I know what I must do." We looked up the stairs that led up to a large Manor, that could be mistaken as a wooden castle. "But what about you? I figured you would have broken off from us long before we entered the city and took a carriage to Winterhold."

"You'd be correct," Matthieu replied, "But I wish to see if the court wizard has any tomes of magic first. But I doubt I can even get an audience with him, seeing as how the city is on lockdown at the moment."

A passing guard happened to hear them. "Sorry," He said, "Not trying to interrupt or anything. But I overheard you. The Court wizard is busy looking into matters involving the attack on Helgen for the Jarl. I wouldn't waste my time trying to seek an audience with him. Unless you wish to wait for a long time. Our court wizard is very dedicated to this kind of research. He'll be in a foul mood if anything disrupts it."

Matthieu looked defeated but regained his composure. "Well, there's my answer," He said, "Thank you sir. Saved some time for me." The guard nodded and continued walking. Mathieu let out an annoyed sigh. "I wish you the best of luck…." He paused awkwardly. "…it is still strange that we don't have a name for you."

"I apologize." I said sheepishly.

"It's whatever," He dismissed it, "Anyways. I wish you the best of luck with the Jarl. Hopefully, we'll meet again. If you're ever in Winterhold, come visit me at the college."

"And how will you know it's me who wishes to visit a friend?" I asked humoring him. Friend.

"Just tell them you're the amnesiac who took on a giant," Matthieu said, "if you have to ask around. Tell them that you're a friend of Matthieu Tarte." Friend.

"Aye," I replied with a laugh, "I'm sure they'll believe that…."

"Oh, most definitely," Matthieu said with the same amount of humor.

We clasped each other's hands in a handshake. "Take care of yourself Matthieu," I said.

"You as well," He replied, "Don't take on any giants without me."

"I'll see what I can do." We laughed, and parted ways. Matthieu returned towards the Market and disappeared down the stairs into the crowd. The world seemed to go silent as I pondered some things. I felt alone. Until now, I had been with some likeminded individuals since I woke up on that cart full of rebels. I had made some friends so far…. I'd like to think so. Hadvar, Myra, and Matthieu. It was strange how people had their own lives and different paths. I wondered what their paths would entail. I hadn't known either of them long, but it felt like Myra and Mattheu were akin to long lost friends or something. Maybe I was just getting attached to something that was meaningless. Whatever. I sighed with an empty feeling and looked at the proud structure that lorded over Whiterun's town. The Jarl's manor. Whatever would await me within those walls was a mystery. Hopefully, this was the first step of figuring out what these dragons were doing back if they hadn't been around for centuries…...