Samuel finally found a paved road, leading to the town. It only had no walls, just a stone gate with a wooden walkway above it for guards, but there were no guards. Chickens walked up and down the streets, cows...well...to put it plainly...pooping on the sides of the road.
I wonder what these Nords consider UNcivilized...thought Samuel.
He met up with Ralof, who was standing by the inn. They walked over to the mill, where a tall woman with blond hair was chopping wood. She turned around and saw them.
"Brother! Mara's mercy, it's good to see you!"
"Gerdur..." said Ralof.
"But is it safe for you to be here? We heard that Ulfric had been captured..."
"Gerdur, I'm fine," soothed Ralof. "At least, now I am."
"Are you hurt? What's happened?" She gestured toward Samuel. "And who's this? One of your comrades?"
"Not a comrade yet, but a friend," said Ralof. "I owe him my life, in fact. Is there somewhere we can talk? There's no telling when the news from Helgen will reach the Imperials."
"Helgen?" asked Gerdur. "Has something happened...? You're right. Follow me. Hod!" she yelled.
A big burly Nord walked from the sawmill. "What is it? Sven drunk on the job again? Wait...Ralof? What are you doing here? Right. I'll be right there."
Gerdur led Samuel and Ralof down the road.
Her house had stone brick walls and a not-so-sturdy looking straw roof. She lead him inside and Samuel forgot all his troubles.
Her house had a homey glow from the fire-pit to it, and the dining table was neatly set with silver plates stacked with red wine, fresh bread, and lots of juicy meat. A child who couldn't be more than ten sat on a chair playing with toy soldiers.
"Uncle Ralof! Can I see your axe? How many Imperials have you killed? Do you really know Ulfric Stormcloak?" he said excitedly.
"Hush, Frodnar," said Gerdur. Hod opened the door behind her. "This is no time for your games. Go watch the south road. Come find us if you see any Imperial soldiers coming."
Frodnar pouted. "Aww, mom, I want to talk with Uncle Ralof!"
Ralof laughed. "Look at you, almost a grown man yourself! Won't be long before you'll be joining the fight yourself!"
"That's right!" said the boy. "Don't worry, Uncle Ralof. I won't let those soldiers sneak up on you."
Frodnar ran out the door.
Hod sat down. "Now, Ralof, what's going on? You two look pretty well done in."
Ralof sighed. "I can't remember when I last slept...Where to start? Well, the news you heard about Ulfric was true. The Imperials ambushed us outside Darkwater Crossing. Like they knew exactly where we'd be...that was two days ago, now. We stopped in Helgen this morning, and I thought it was all over. Had us lined up to the headsman's block and ready to start chopping."
"The cowards!" exclaimed Gerdur.
Ralof nodded. "They wouldn't give Ulfric a fair trial. Treason, fighting for your own people! All of Skyrim would've seen the truth. But then, out of nowhere...a dragon attacked!"
Gerdur gasped. "You don't mean a real, live..."
"I can hardly believe myself, and I was there. As strange as it sounds, we'd be dead if not for that dragon. In the confusion, we managed to get away. Are we really the first to make it to Riverwood?"
"Nobody else has come up the south road today, as far as I know," said Hod.
"Good," said Ralof. "Gerdur I'd hate to endanger your family but--"
"Nonsense," snapped Gerdur. "You and your friend are welcome to stay as long as you need to. Let me worry about the Imperials. Any friend of Ralof's is a friend of mine."
She turned to Samuel.
"There's something you could do for me, if you're willing. For all of Riverwood."
Samuel swallowed the bread he was eating. "Sure?"
"The Jarl needs to know if there's a dragon on the loose. Riverwood is defenseless...We need to get word to Jarl Balgruff the Greater in Whiterun to send whatever soldiers he can. If you do that for me, I'll be in your debt."
"Thank you. Take the north road. It should only take a few hours."
Samuel left the gates of Riverwood and onto the open road, heading north. He pulled put his sword, remembering warning of the things that prowled Skyrim's roads at night. He heard a howling noise and made a 360 degree turn. A pack of three wolves was headed straight for him.
He pulled an arrow out of his quiver, not bothering to put it in the bow, and threw it at one wolf like a spear. He shocked one with lightning and beheaded the other with his sword. He continued on his way to Whiterun.
Whiterun is an ancient Nord city, built on top of a hill, with millennia-old walls that still stand strong today. Outside the city are the two family farms: The farm of Clan Battle-Born,who support the Empire, Clan Gary-Mane, who support the Stormcloaks.
Whiterun is the capital of the hold, or section of Skyrim, of Whiterun. The other two villages in the hold are the hold are Riverwood and Rorikstead. Jarl Balgruff is the leader of the hold, and had led it for 60 years since the passing of his father Bjorn the Fierce. Other landmarks in the hold is the Throat of the World, the highest mountain in Tamerial, Bleak Falls Barrow, an ancient Nord burial site, and a few giant camps. Giants are generally 15 feet tall and leave people alone...unless someone attacks their mammoth herds. Then Talos help the poor idiot.
Samuel finally made it to Whiterun, just as the sun came up over Bleak Falls Barrow. On the side of the path was a smallish/largish building with a sign out front that read: HONNINGBREW MEADERY. He kept making his way to the city. Right outside the first layer of stone walls with guard towers was the stables. Farther up the hill was a stone gate, a drawbridge that was open under it. The final layer of defense was the entrance, with four guards standing watch by it. One guard walked over to Samuel.
"Halt! City's closed with dragons about. Official bushiness only," he said.
"It is official," said Samuel. "Riverwood calls for the Jarl's aid."
"Oh," said the guard. "You'll want to go to Dragonreach, at the top of the hill."
As soon as Samuel stepped inside, he was homesick for Cyrodiil. This town was MUCH more civilized than that poor excuse for a village Riverwood. No cows pooping on roads, no disgusting chickens walking around the city as they pleased, and more than one road going through the middle of the town. At the entrance was a blacksmith at the right, with a Redguard woman sharpening on sword on a grindstone. To the left, the guard's barracks. Next to the blacksmith was a house with a sign out front. It read:
BREEZEHOME. FOR SALE.
5000 SEPTIMS. SEE STEWARD PROVENTUS AVVENICI
AT DRAGONSREACH PALACE FOR DETAILS.
There was a tavern on a small hill named: The Drunken Huntsmen. Samuel considered going there. Hunting was one of his favorite activities as a boy. He and his father would grab their bows and swords and head out out to hunt woolly mammoth that had strayed from their giant owners at 2:00 in the morning.
Farther down the road was several more houses and a central well with three market stalls by it.
"Fresh vegetables from Pelaiga farm!"
"Spiced meat imported from Valenwood!"
"Hand-crafted armor and jewelry from the best blacksmith in Skyrim!"
Three buildings by the market each had signs identifying them.
BELETHOR'S GENERAL GOODS
THE BANNERED MARE
To the left of the market stalls were a flight of stairs leading up to what is known is as the Wind District. The entrance level with the shops and market was the Plains District. The Jarl's palace, Dragonsreach, is the Cloud District. Samuel walked up the stairs to see a withered white tree with four benches beside it. Each branch on the tree had one lonely brown leaf on the end. Up on top of another small hill was Jorrvaskr, the mead hall for the legendary warrior group, the Companions. Beside the white tree was a temple. Several more houses dotted the Wind District, leading back down to the Plains District. A silver statue of Talos holding a sword was on a pedestal next to the long flight of stairs leading up to Dragonsreach. A man named Heimskr in golden robes was preaching at the foot of the statue, a few elders sitting on the benches to listen.
Samuel walked up the stairs and stairs to the palace, a huge wooden home that looked very welcoming. Samuel pushed open the doors and saw his guess was right. A small flight of stairs (were the Nords obsessed with stairs? Samuel wished escalators had been invented sooner than the 20th century.) led up to the throne room. A dragon skull was mounted above the throne, where the Jarl was talking with the steward. Two long wooden tables with silver dishware sat parallel to each other, a fire pit separating them. A dark elf, that is, an elf with blood red eyes and gray skin, walked over to him. They prefer to be called Dunmer, and are natives of Morrowind. Nords do not appreciate them in Skyrim, but grudgingly tolerate them. Though no one says it, everyone knows everyone hates Dark Elves.
"What is the meaning of this interruption?" asked the elf. "Jarl Balgruff is not receiving visitors."
"Gerdur sent me," said Samuel. "Riverwood is danger."
"As Housecarl, my job is to deal with all dangers that threaten the Jarl or his people. So you have my attention. Now, explain yourself."
Samuel gulped. "I was told to give to message directly to the Jarl."
The Dark Elf growled. "Whatever you have to say to the Jarl, you can say to me. I'm starting to think--"
"Irileth!" shouted the Jarl. "It's all right. I want to hear what he has to say."
Balgruff was old, maybe 70 or 80, quite a rarity to live that long in the harsh province of Skyrim. He had gray hair that went down to his shoulder blades, and a thinning goatee.
Samuel walked to the foot of the throne and bowed. "Jarl Balgruff."
"What's this about Riverwood being in danger?"
"A dragon attacked Helgen. Gerdur is afraid Riverwood is next."
"Gerdur? Owns the lumber mill, if I'm not mistaken...Pillar of the community. Not prone to...flights of fancy...And you're sure Helgen was destroyed by a dragon? Not some Stormcloak raid gone wrong?"
Samuel sighed. "Yes. I had a great view while the Imperials were trying to cut off my head."
The Jarl chuckled. "Really? You're certainly...forthright about your criminal past. But it's none of my concern who the Imperials want to execute. Especially now. What I want to know is what exactly happened at Helgen."
"The dragon destroyed Helgen. And last I saw it was heading this way," said Samuel.
"By Ysmir, Irileth was right!"
Jarl Balgruff turned to his steward. "What do you say now, Proventus? Shall we continue to trust against the strength of our walls? Against a dragon?"
Irileth stepped forward. "My lord, we should send troops to Riverwood at once. It's in the most immediate danger, if that dragon is lurking in the mountains..."
The steward, Proventus, shook his head. "The Jarl of Falkreath will view that as a provocation! He'll assume we're preparing to join Ulfric's rebellion and attack him! We should not--"
"Enough!" shouted the Jarl. "I'll not stand idly by while a dragon burns my hold and slaughters my people! Irileth, send a detachment to Riverwood at once."
She bowed. "Yes, my Jarl."
The steward also bowed. "If you'll excuse me, I'll return to my duties."
"That would be best."
He turned to Samuel. Well done. You sought me out, on your own initiative. You've done Whiterun a service, and I won't soon forget it. There is another thing you could do for me..." said the Jarl. "Something for a man of your...particular talents...perhaps? Come, let's go find Farengar. He's been looking into these dragons and...rumors of dragons."