Author's Note: This is my first fan fiction in, well, a long time. It is also my first Elder Scrolls fan fiction. I'm sorry if the intro. drags a little, I'm just trying to set up Everlee's story here. I promise future chapters will be a little faster paced and probably shorter. I do not intend to follow any quest-line specifically at the moment, so it should be fairly original after the second half of Helgen. I also will try to keep most characters cannon but I may take some liberties, we'll see. Reviews and comments welcome!
The Chopping Block
"Hey, are you ok? Awake now?" a concerned voice asked.
My eyes flew open and the trustworthy part of my brain was instantly alert and commanded my hand to reach for the dagger hidden in my armor only to cause my entire body to hurt, sore with stiffness and countless bruises. My eyes shut tight, fighting a wave of nausea that reminded me I hadn't eaten a whole day before I had reached the Morrowind-Skyrim border. I took in a deep shaky breath.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you m'am," he said politely.
"It's ok," I said, bracing myself against the wagon with my shoulder to force myself into a sitting position.
It was all coming back to me. After a mysterious letter from someone who claimed to know something of my father, I had set of for Skyrim from Cyrodiil, going through Morrowind because of the blocked border. Morrowind had too many problems of their own to monitor their borders and the Legion could only be in so many places. The plan had been successful up until a day before I reached the border, when I'd run out of food and spotted no game. Then I had been attacked by bandits. Three days later, wandering and lost, I had run into a band of warriors who offered me aid but only hours later we had been ambushed.
"Ralof," I said, recalling the young man's name in the present.
"Yes, you remember, that's good. Must not have been hit too hard then. I was worried you'd never wake up," he said.
Ralof had been one of the dozen or so that had been making their way down the road. They were in a hurry but had promised to give me food and the few supplies that they could spare before pointing me toward the nearest village as soon as they stopped. I had been so grateful I had nearly cried. Ralof had even offered me his horse though he had been fighting and traveling along the road for days with little rest himself.
"Ralof," a voice mocked. I turned my attention to the dirty man next to the blonde. He, like me, was not wearing Stormcloak armor. "You say his name as if he were some decent man. He's a Stormcloak. If it weren't for him Skyrim would have peace and more importantly we never would have gotten in this mess and we would be both free and I'd be nearly to Hammerfell on that stolen horse. Pssh, Stormcloaks, worthless, the lot of them."
"Watch your mouth thief. We fight for Skyrim, with honor, whereas you take from innocents," Ralof said, his voice growing dangerous all of a sudden.
The man snorted, not too afraid of the Stormcloak who was tied and a prisoner the same as he. "Innocents."
Ralof recovered from his anger almost as quick as it had come on. "Anyway, I'm sorry m'am but I didn't catch your name last night –"
"And I didn't have the chance to thank you for your kindness, Ralof. My name's Everlee. I usually go by Ever."
"Where are you from Ever?" Ralof asked, genuinely interested.
I smiled at him, despite the uncertainty of the future. He made me feel human, important, not some nameless captive. Despite the fact that we would likely be given a death sentence at our trials, he was taking the time to get to know me with what little of it we had left. Of course, once we were back in Cyrodiil it was likely some one would recognize me or I could get word out somehow. I had a number of friends in the capital city. I would be free then, my life stretching out before me, but Ralof…
The Stormcloaks were nothing but kind to me, nothing like the savages the guards in Cyrodiil described. And Ralof couldn't be older than seventeen, a kid even to me, who was only five years his elder. After knowing him and his comrades, even for a short time, it would be hard to blame them for the problems for the state of their homeland.
"Cyrodiil, I'm from Cyrodiil. My family has been there as long as anyone can remember and my mother claims we were some of the first Bretons to settle permanently in the heart of the Empire. I was born in Leyawiin."
"Your father?" Ralof asked.
I tried to keep my face clear as I responded, "That's why I'm here. I never knew him, didn't care to either until I got this mysterious letter from someone who claimed to know about my family. They said it would be worth my while to make it to Riften and that in time, everything would be revealed. At first I thought it was a weird joke but curiosity got the better of me."
"Oh, well I hope that you'll find what you're…I mean…" Ralof struggled to come up with the words as he realized that my entire journey was forfeit and my life might be too. The reality of the situation again broke through, leaving us in silence for a few minutes.
We slowed down as we came into a town.
"We're stopping here?" Lokir surmised from the guards' chatter. "Why would we stop here?"
Neither Ralof or I had the heart to respond. My stomach sank. There would be no reprieve after all then, not unless they saw Lokir and I for what we were, not Stormcloaks. I didn't have much hope for it, they hadn't found out yet. And even if they did, could I, could I watch Ralof as the ax raised and his life ended? I had only seen a few beheadings when the city council called on me to fulfill my duty as a citizen to witness and they were horrible, even though they were nameless criminals whose crimes were atrocious. Could I watch Ralof's life end if mine were spared? Could I leave if they cleared my name, and which would be the bigger crime? To walk away and pretend none of this had ever happened, forget Ralof entirely, or to watch silently, not raising a finger to help?
"Get the headsman ready!" I heard General Tullius call, cutting off that train of thought only to open up a new one, a new emotion: rage.
There was no justice here. Everything the Empire stood for, every law, every thing I had known to be good and true from birth was being twisted. There would be no trial, they were going to murder us, there was no other word for it. Perhaps this would have been the sentence dealt if the law had been carried through, but it would have raised difficult questions, questions I guess Tullius and the Empire didn't want to answer. I wondered if anyone would know of our deaths here or if they would report Ulfric and his men had died in the ambush. It would be much cleaner that way and who in Cyrodiil would doubt him?
By the time the cart stopped and we were out, I had worked up quite a fury, which was good, because otherwise, I doubt I would have had the strength to stand. Lokir freaked when his name was called and got himself shot with an arrow and I wondered which was worse, an arrow through the heart or losing my head. Luckily I didn't have time to consider it much before they asked me to come forth.
He eyed me suspiciously. I had enough Breton in me to be shorter than average, it was true, and many of my facial features were similar too but my build was something quite different, the makings of another race and I knew that's what he saw.
"And that's all."
"Half-Breton then, fleeing from some court intrigue maybe?" the man, said and I had the sudden urge to punch him in the face. For the first time I was glad for the restraints on my wrists. He turned to the guard though and asked, as was his duty. "She's not on the list, what should we do?"
"She goes to the block too, forget the list Hadvar."
Knowing full well how illegal this whole procedure was and having seen that in her eyes beforehand I wasn't surprised. Hadvar, looked at me expectantly, perhaps anticipating to see me cry. I looked straight into his eyes which seemed to unnerve him and I took the time to notice that he didn't look much older than me. He, like Ralof, was a Nord, and all over Skyrim the youth were dying before they had ever much chance to live. I thought of my home, of all of my friends, and knew if I were there I would be sitting safe before a hearth, probably listening to my mom lecture me about getting serious about my magical studies and being a "proper" Breton.
"I'm sorry prisoner," he said still looking down at his list, his voice was still firm but the words surprised me nevertheless. "We'll make sure your remains are returned to High Rock."
I rolled my eyes but didn't correct him. I didn't care where my body may or may not be sent after this and I doubted telling him my homeland would do anything but get my name mysteriously taken off the list as a precaution and I wanted people to see it. I wanted there to be a chance for everyone to know what had happened here and…and I wanted my mom to know why she'd never see me again.
The first soldier's death sickened me. He had faced his death bravely, volunteering to go first to get the mockery over with. To my horror I was second, perhaps so no one could question why I was facing this sentence and second guess the captain's orders. I gathered all the strength in me so my knees wouldn't buckle and I could die with some dignity. The captain forced me down with her foot, to add insult to injury I guess. Where was I going to go at this point?
I wanted to shut my eyes when he raised the axe, I didn't want to see my death or for my bodiless head to stare blankly at all the others to come after me but I could barely manage to breathe, let alone blink.
And then the dragon attacked.
A.N.: I know, what a surprise right? Well, it was running a bit long so I decided to split Helgen up. Also, I probably took a few liberties with Ralof. Tell me what you think. Suggestions and comments welcome!