Theirin Blood Dragon-Born
Makers Breath that smarts!” Alistair winced. He reached to rub the throbbing pain on the back of his skull and realized his hands were bound in front of him. Last time he had been knocked out he woke up in Fort Drakon’s Dungeon. Luckily this time he had more than just his smalls on.
“Ah, you’re finally awake?”
The deep voice brought his gaze up from his hands to a blonde haired man sitting in the carriage across from him.
“You were trying to cross the border right? And walked into that imperial ambush, same as us, and that thief over there.” He motioned to the man in tattered clothing next to him.
“Damn you Stormcloaks. Everything was fine until you showed up.” The thief grumbled as he fiddled with his bindings. He glanced over to Alistair. “You and I shouldn’t be here. It’s these Stormcloaks the Empire wants.”
The blonde man’s lips curled into a smile. “We are all brothers and sisters in binds now horsethief.”
The thief clenched fists. “Piss off.” He spat returning his attention to the rope bindings.
Alistair looked at the man sitting beside him in the carriage. The same style of armor as the blonde man, he assumed a common ‘Stormcloak’ garb from the previous conversation. His hands were also bound but unlike the others, a thick cloth was tied around the man’s head to keep him from speaking. His piercing green eyes shot a glare which sent chills up Alistair’s spine.
“What’s your problem Stormcloak filth?” The thief defended Alistair. The man turned his icy glare towards the threat.
“Watch your tongue! You’re speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the true High King!” The blonde man shouted angrily.
“Ulfric? The Jarl of Windhelm? But you’re- you’re the leader of the rebellion! If they captured you-? By the gods! Where are they taking us?!” The thief’s hard exterior shattered like glass and he frantically yanked at his bindings.
Beyond frustrated, Alistair interrupted their banter. “Alright I must have missed something?” Alistair raised his brow in confusion.
The three turned their attention to him eyes wide in surprise.
“What in the Maker’s name is going on here? What is a Stormcloak? Who is Ulfric of Windhelm? And what’s this rebellion you speak of?”
The stormcloacks shared a confused glance before the blonde spoke again. “You’re not from around here are you stranger? The name’s Ralof.”
“Alistair, and no-I’m not. I’m from Ferelden and arrived at port only three days ago. In that time I’ve heard a man from my room at the inn that appeared quite touched shouting all night long about something called a Talos, half-cat and half-lizard people serving ale and wares, a man shot in the knee with an arrow. I mean who does something like that? And now, I’ve been knocked in the head, captured and ride in a carriage to an almost certain and untimely death. Holy Andraste! And I thought the Orlesians had odd customs!” His exasperated sigh ended his rant.
“Quiet down back there!” The carriage driver hollered over his shoulder.
“And we get the humorless carriage driver. Next time I’m taking the happy carriage of death.” Alistair groaned slouching back in his seat, pouted and gently tugged on the rope bindings testing their strength.
After a moment of silence the horsethief again threatened the stormcloaks. Their bickering continued while Alistair seemingly sat defeated on the bench next to Ulfric. Little did they know the warden was much more cunning than he let on. Taking note of the number of men guarding them; horses, gear, strengths, weaknesses and overall morale of their captors, Alistair began formulating a plan.
His blade was tucked in a nearby guardsman’s belt and his shield strapped to another’s back. The number of prisoners could be distracting enough for him to overpower one or two of his captors. He could go for his sword first as it was faster to retrieve and far closer, but he wouldn’t be able to take them all before he was subdued again or even killed. For now he would wait and pray the Maker provided a more opportune moment of escape.
The carriage ride seemed to take forever and Alistair’s head pounded with each bounce of the rickety wagon. His thumb and forefinger fiddled with his wedding band luckily still concealed beneath his leather glove.The simple fixation grounded his thoughts and allowed him to focus on the task. The taint. It was the sole reason he made the month long trip overseas, to seek out a cure for both his wife, and for himself.
Anastasia- he could still remember the warmth of her body pressed against him their last night together. The way gentle dark curls fell across her face. How the sunlight danced over her skin the next morning as she lay asleep on his chest. Her soft lips and the well of tears in sapphire eyes when they parted chasing rumors to free them both from a Warden’s fate. Leaving her side would be for naught if he died here.
The carriage entered through a stone archway and into a quaint town. Alistair overheard to the hushed whispers and curses as people coddled their children whilst shooting harden glares in their direction when they passed.
“General Tullius, sir! The headsman is waiting!” A soldier spoke to a man on horseback wearing quality steel armor decorated with golden flourishes. That was about the time the thief completely lost it. Crying out to a number of gods he had never heard Alistair ignored the mad ramblings and turned towards Ralof.
“Where exactly are we?” Alistair asked quietly.
“Helglen. That man on horseback is General Tullius, the Military Governor, and looks like the Thalmor are with him. Damn elves. I bet they had something to do with this.” He spat.
“Whoa!” The driver bellowed deep and the wagon came to a jutting halt.
“End of the line.” Ulfric grumbled under his breath. A soldier ordered them out of the carriage and towards the twin square. The thief refused to follow of his own free will. Ralof mumbled cruel forms of encouragement as the man was forcibly drug kicking and screaming to the line of prisoners.
“Silence!” A female soldier's’ hard gruff voice had forced all eyes on her intimidating form. “When we call your name step forward!” Her tone was fierce, her posture straight and her commanding presence reminded him of how Ana commanded the Wardens.
“Yes Captain Drusilla! Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm.” The soldier next to her read off the paper he held. The uneasiness he emitted was undeniable; his stance was weak, his hands trembled, his voice wavered and his eyes wandered. The soldier wasn’t comfortable with the situation he found himself in and with all eyes on him his courage was quickly crumbling.
Alistair watched as Ulfric stepped forward. The Jarl of Windhelm stood proud and fearlessness as he followed the simple directions given him.
The Warden’s gaze wandered from Ulfric to the hooded man nearby, then to the man’s large ax, and down to a wooden block on the ground at his feet. A chill worked its way up his spine and he rolled his wrists inconspicuously.
He leaned toward Ralof standing stiffly beside him. “Uh it’s not Tuesday is it? Maker’s Breath please tell me it’s not Tuesday?” The Stormcloak looked confused but paid little mind to Alistair’s humor. The call of Ralof’s name pulled the one sensible man Alistair had met so far away from him.
“Lokir of Rorikstead.”
Suddenly the thief panicked, and shrugged free of the loose grip on his shoulder. “No! I’m no rebel! I don’t want to die!” He practically sobbed sprinting across the courtyard.
“Stop! Archers!” Captain Drusilla bellowed.
A single arrow pierced the back of Lokir’s head with such force he was propelled forward. His body fell like a sack of flour to the ground. Gasps and murmurs traveled through the line. Alistair looked away and clenched his fists trying to keep his anger in check.
“Anyone else feel like running?!” The Captain dared. When silence fell over the prisoners the man continued reading the list of names until Alistair was the last one left.
“Guess that means I wasn’t invited to the party.” The warden mocked. Captain Drusilla scoffed at his humor and ordered him to step forward. The soldier asked for a name and fumbled through his paper nervously when it didn’t match any on his list.
“The list doesn’t matter anymore. He goes to the block.” Drusilla stated. The soldier’s eyes widened. His mouth opened but closed without uttering a word. He looked at Alistair. A silent apology in his eyes. The warden joined the rest of the prisoners near the headsman. There wasn’t much time.
He stood listening to General Tullius insult Ulfric. Much of the accusations made little sense. He mentioned that Ulfric used the ‘Voice’ to murder his king. And he had started the war. That what they were about to do would help restore peace.
A distant roar echoed through the surrounding mountains bringing everyone to a stunned silence. Alistair knew that sound anywhere. The same chilling pitch as the fake andraste high dragon and the archdemon. The voice of Tullius shattered the stillness causing Alistair to jump slightly. He ordered that they proceed and first Stormcloak knelt at the block. Alistair felt his blood boil. He had witnessed death and killed many times himself, but as far as he knew these men and women were innocents. He clenched his jaw but the words spilled from his mouth uncontrollably.
“Are you insane!” The soldiers turned their attention towards his outburst. “Well clearly you are-” he chuckled at himself. He was stalling. ‘The Maker sure likes to wait till the last moment to give a damn doesn’t he?’ In that moment another loud roar rumbled over the town. The steady rhythm of wings beat the air as the creature responsible appeared in the clouds.
Screams filled the air as the villagers scattered. The town erupted in panic when the dragon landed on the watch tower in front of them. It’s talons sunk deep into the cobblestone and the sheer force of its grasp caused the stone to crumble. Another piercing bellow from the creature caused the clouds to gather and blot out the sun. They swirled into a raging storm directly above the dragon. There was no question, the beast was using powerful ancient magic. A third roar, louder than any he had ever heard before pounded painfully through his head and body.
Alistair’s thoughts turned hazy as he lifted his head. The force of the roar was so powerful he gasped to catch breath stolen from his chest. Even sounds were distorted from the ear splitting roar. He closed his eyes and opened them again. He was on the ground and around him many others had been knocked down as well. The vision began to blur again and he blinked then clear again. Flames burned the wooden homes and its smoke filled his lungs. Alistair’s gaze met with the dragon’s as it stared down at him from atop the tower. A hard jerk back on the collar of his uniform caused him to gag. He turned to see Ralof, his mouth was moving but his words muffled. The Stormcloak pulled Alistair to his feet and led him to the safety of another tower.
Once inside he gathered his bearinga. Three stormcloaks and Ulfric had taken shelter in the tower. One was hurt badly and couldn’t walk without assistance, but at least she had survived. Outside the screams and roars continued.
Ralof took a dagger from one of the other stormcloaks and turned to Alistair “Your binds- let me cut you lo-”
Alistair twisted his wrists and the rope bindings slackened. Ralof looked on in surprise. “What?” Alistair shrugged a sly crooked smile spread to his face as he rubbed his wrists. “Married a rogue. She has quite the shameless fascination with knots and bindings, and I’ll have you know… hers are far better.” He chortled.
Ralof chuckled and raised his brow at the implication. “So do you always make jokes Alistair?”