Based on a true story:
The Madman of the Bridge
I knew it immediately. There was something… wrong… about him. Something wild… I kept myself pressed tightly against the rocks as I stared down the bridge and peered through the morning mist as best I could. The man, if you could call him that, stood there still, completely motionless in the center of the bridge as though he were waiting for something. Something to kill.
I shook my head, tried to tell myself that he was just an ordinary man, a bit old, maybe in his sixties, but nothing to be feared. But something, something nameless in my heart knew better. That something told me to fear the man, that the moment I did anything that he noticed, whether attacking, or speaking, or even if I were to give him a pouch full of gold, he would immediately attack. The large battleaxe at his side told me that I would undoubtedly die should he do so. The answer was obvious, turn back.
But that wasn't an option, I was given a task, to infiltrate the Dwemer ruins and retrieve a specific artifact. My curiosity was peaked, I decided go for it. Besides once I had done so I would be allowed into the Fighters guild. And who knew what other treasures lied in ruins just waiting to be found. So I had to go with plan B. I pulled an arrow from my quiver.
For me fighting was never the first option, ironic then that I was trying to get into the Fighters guild right? I had a reason though, and for me to reveal it might well cost me my life, so let's just focus on the story.
I climbed up to the top of a rather large boulder in the hopes that should he discover where I am attacking from he'd be unable to reach me. Once in position I notched the arrow and pulled it back. I took great care in the aiming of the first shot, it was my hope it would be the only. Hope is a funny thing though.
While my hope that he couldn't reach me turned true, my first shot didn't reach his heart as I had planned. It pierced his left shoulder, but didn't even impede the movement of his arm. This became known to me when I saw him cast that blasted spell! Had I known he was a necromancer… well I'm not sure if I could have done anything differently, but I certainly would have thought twice, or rather thrice, before my actions.
It was already too late for that though, a small flash of red light and then a skeleton materialized out of thin air in front of him. What's worse is he somehow knew precisely where I was hiding! Without even issuing a command the creature and the old man were rushing to my location. In my foolishness I fired upon the skeleton first, bringing it down with a few direct hits, of course I made my share of misses. But the man immediately summoned another skeleton to replace the first one. They were coming in close, but I was safe on my rock. It was peculiar though both creature and man alike were mad it seemed they both ran straight to the rock trying to kill me without an apparent thought in their minds, well I guess the creature had an excuse, it was mindless. The old man must have been near to the same as well. I caught the slightest glimpse of his eyes at one point and I immediately knew. The bastard was crazy. His eyes were so fierce and wild that he appeared more animal than man, even though he wore both clothes and a worn iron breastplate. In that brief instant I felt the slightest pity, but that was soon lost when a fireball was flung from his fingertips at me.
I barely got out of the way. For the briefest of moments I marveled at how he could cast such magic when he was clearly out of his mind but then I took stock of the situation again. This wasn't working. Though true the man could not reach me directly, in his frenetic attempts at rock climbing he slipped and fell never once gaining a proper foot or hand hold, if he calmed down I was in trouble though. But as he threw fireball after fireball at my head I knew I couldn't stay on this rock, he'd eventually hit me and I wasn't sure how many of those hits I could take. My decision was swift; the plan's execution was swifter. I leapt from the rock and made a run for it as if the devil himself was behind me. For all I knew maybe he was.
Though I didn't run away, per se, I ran across the bridge to the ruins, to my intended goal in the first place. I knew then what I still know now, sometimes you have to stick with plan A.
Running at a breakneck pace I didn't stop to look behind me until the door to the ruins was in sight. I chanced a quick glance behind me, but all I saw was the morning mist. I strained my ears but all I heard was the whistling of the wind through the rocks of the mountain. I let myself relax a small amount, but I knew that the madman could come tearing across at any second. My plan then was to gain asylum in the ruins. But the door wasn't normal. No instead it was some kind of radial door. I'm not really sure what the actual term is but the design was that the door would open outwards in a circle instead of swinging like a normal, sane door.
There was no switch I could see.
I was beginning to panic as well for there was no hiding place around, the path dropped at a steep slope on either side, a slope I'd likely not survive going down. Upon hearing a loud cry, similar to a man's yell of anger, or was it pain? I couldn't tell nor did I care too. I immediately ducked behind another large rock, this one unscalable, and slid to the ground trying to become even more unseeable. I felt something shift in the stone as I did so, whatever it was it was uncomfortable enough to be a lever and the door did suddenly open, so I jumped for it. As I dove inside I saw the door slowly closing, but at the moment I would have rather been trapped inside than burned and chopped to pieces so I didn't even flinch upon seeing this. Once inside I sat down caught my breath and moved on, searching for the artifact.
I certainly found a good bit of treasure, and I faced more than a few bandits (though mostly one at a time) but this story isn't about those things. No this tale is about that demented madman of the bridge!
I had made it out of the ruins a little worse for ware, and dreadfully low on arrows, but I had my prize. I held the artifact proudly in my hand staring at its finely written intricacies, it was like a gear in shape, but there was more to it that I could not fathom. But that didn't matter, not then and not now. So I strode calmly towards the bridge. The thick morning mist had vanished by then and so too had my thoughts of the deranged fellow, but unfortunately the moment couldn't last.
I saw him, and he me at the same instant, for half a second I contemplated retreating back within, but something had changed within me in my short jaunt inside the Dwemer ruins. I was tired and hungry and had fought three battles in the last hour alone and had won each with nary a scratch. I decided to try my luck.
He cast his foul summoning spell again and soon a skeleton had appeared that began running towards me. I whipped out my bow quicker than I had in the morning notched an arrow without hesitation and let it fly to the old man, it struck him firmly in his right underarm, but he ignored it. I noticed then that the arrow from this morning was still lodged firmly in his left shoulder, dried blood in a trickle down his arm. This time I was not surprised, but the question did come to my mind, Does he feel no pain? I quickly unsheathed my sword and crossed it with the one in the creature's skeletal fingers, defeating it was easy, it was strong, but I was swifter and more skilled and soon had removed the skeleton's head, its bones fell towards the stone of the bridge but broke into dust before ever touching it.
And by then the madman was upon me. Almost before I could react his axe was coming down upon my head, I just barely held my sword up to block. A wrenching pain hit my shoulder as I felt the incredible power of that single blow. My courage faltered. I found myself staring into his wild eyes, so full of malice and insanity that I quailed before it. Terror once again took reign in my heart.
I inwardly cursed my foolishness, I was no match for the madman, and I knew it, why did I even think of facing him fatigued and hungered as I was? He pulled his weapon back to strike again and I took my chance. I chose not to run back and hide in the ruins, surely this demented fool, fixated upon killing me, would still be here when I next came out. No instead, terrified though I was I made a bold move and ran past him.
He was swift though and caught me in the back. My mind exploded with pain, I couldn't see, hear, or feel. The only thing in me that kept me on my feet, stumbling away was the fear, and the relief that I had not been cloven in two. Quickly my mind cleared and I set my feet to my intended path, to Balmora. Plan A it was.
I ran. With all that was in me I ran. And the madman gave chase. Fate this time had conspired against me; there was no fog, no cover to lose him in. So I ran on. Blood stained the clothes on my back and ran down the leather, but I ran on. I didn't even chance a glance back until I had jumped over a small stream. He was still nigh upon me! If I had been calmer of thought I might have marveled at this that a man of his obviously great age might be chasing me so close, worse still he was gaining! I rounded a bend and halted waiting to jump him. It was a desperate improvised plan, but if it were to work I could survive longer. Being an Imperial I drew upon my innate power in a panic and called forth the Star of the West within me and placed my palm upon his forehead when he reached the turn.
Immediately I absorbed his energy, trading my tiredness for some of his strength. I suddenly had the strength to continue running, and he collapsed onto the ground. I stopped for a moment, I had the thought that I could stab him right then and there, but before I could even redraw my sword, he sat up and I bolted. I didn't want to even take the chance.
The city soon came into view as the sun began to set. I stole another glance over my shoulder and cried out in dismay. He had begun running again! Some unearthly strength allowed him to begin catching up even though I was now well rested and he fatigued. I needed to slow him down so I ran up the first set of stairs I saw. I happened upon some sort of party upon the roof of a one story building. The guests and hosts were all Dunmer and immediately looked down at me but I didn't have the time. I looked around; highly doubting these Dark Elves would lend a hand, and saw the perfect opportunity. This building was close to another, the roof of this one higher up, and if I ran…
The madman began dashing up the stairs, breathing heavily, and I ran at my fastest, stepped upon the raised edge of the roof, and leapt for all I was worth. For half an instant in the air I was enthralled, I don't know why now and didn't then. But somehow I knew the madman couldn't make this jump, just as surely as he couldn't climb the rock earlier. My feet hit the ground hard and I rolled then I looked back. The madman was fuming! He thrashed his arms and gnashed his teeth at me, but could not reach me.
Now in a safe position I pondered why he did not cast flames at me again as he did before, I realized then that he also had not cast a skeleton in some time. Perhaps… perhaps he had run out of magicka. The thought made me grin. I pulled out my bow once again and shot several arrows at him joyously. It didn't even bother me at that moment that not a single one of the Dunmer there were willing to help, but simply kept a wide berth from the madman, who for some odd reason didn't see any of them as targets either. I shot arrow after arrow at the man, some which went wide as he ran around in circles, but I soon ran out after he had run down the stairs and began frantically running around in the streets around the building I was on top of, desperately trying to get at me, though the arrows were beginning to take their toll. His movements were slower and obviously pained, but he still frenzied on, growing wilder by the second.
I realized for a heart wrenching moment that there was a stairway straight up to this roof as well. But for perhaps the first time that evening fortune was on my side. The madman hadn't noticed it in his rage. He continued spitting and shouting, overall horrifying the townspeople who came in a crowd to watch. And yet not a single one of them helped me! The thought made me angry, and soon the anger built up and beat down the fear that was diminishing anyway at this point. Even with no less than seven arrows piercing him in various places the madman continued to rage, his eyes growing wilder and wilder. I had to do something. I had to kill him, who knew how long he'd remain fixated on me. At any moment he might begin to attack the townspeople. I peered over the roof's edge, contemplating dropping down on top of him, but the distance was too great and my own wound was taking a toll as well. The wound wouldn't kill me; the fall most certainly would in the state that I was so I decided instead to use the stairs.
I ran down the steps two at a time, nearly falling down, but I managed to keep my feet under me. My sword was drawn as I rounded the corner to face my insane foe. He turned. As soon as I positioned my sword for my charge; he drew back his axe…
We met. My blade piercing through his breastplate from the strength of the charge, his axe burrowed into my shoulder, my right arm was useless, but still attached. I gazed into his wild eyes with fury and pressed further as best I could with one good arm. The blade went deeper and I suddenly saw it.
He was dying.
He was finally dying. I saw it first in his eyes; the furious madness within them lessened drawing upon a nameless fear that he had forgotten ages ago. Then the blood hacked up to his mouth having already marred his breastplate. The next moment his strength gave out and he fell backwards.
My hand still on the sword, I fell with him. I got up slowly all sense of adrenaline lost as I suddenly felt weak from my own wounds, and extricated my sword causing the madman to gasp. His last desperate try for air proved vain. When I was sure, absolutely sure he was dead, I turned my back on him, and walked away to find aid for my wounds. Serene in the thought that it was over.
I didn't even consider asking for help from the stunned crowd that stared at me as I walked by, not that anyone offered. I went to the temple for aid from those honor bound to help (though honor bound to abstain from violence) the wounded. I took one last look at the dead madman before continuing on to the temple. He was perpetuated in an expression of shock, the same expression I likely had when I first looked in his eyes. It was as if the concept of death had never even occurred to him. I narrowed my eyes at his corpse.
As a general disclaimer I do no own Morrowind or any of the Elderscrolls rights or characters etc. But you're smart people, you all knew that. ;)
Morrowind is not one of my favorite games, in fact I've played much more of Oblivion, but I enjoyed what I did play of it and as it was suggested above this pretty much happened to me in game, though to be fair I died more often than my nameless protaganist did. I've never had this experience in any other game I've played and for a long time I though this needed to be written so I eventually broke down and wrote the thing. Hoped you liked it, and I mean you specifically, reader, let me know either way.