He woke up the carriage with three other people. An Imperial soldier was driving a cart. His memory was a little foggy, since he took a bump on the head a few hours earlier. One of the other prisoners looked at him. He looked like a Stormcloak, the name for the rebels against the Empire. He had a small stubble and shoulder-length blond hair.
"Hey, you're finally awake," he said. "You tried to cross the border, right into that Imperial ambush. I'm Ralof."
"I'm..." he said. "I-I can't remember."
"Must have have been quite a hit to your head. It'll come back soon."
"Am I in Skyrim?" he asked.
"Yes. Near Falkreath, I think. We're headed toward another town, I think," said Ralof.
He looked at the other prisoners. He saw the man he had seen on the horse earlier, and another man he didn't recognize. The one he didn't recognize was gagged, and was wearing clothes fit for a Jarl.
"I hate you Stormcloaks," snapped the horse guy. "Skyrim was great before YOU came along. Empire was nice and lazy. If it wasn't for you, I'd have stolen that horse and been halfway to Hammerfell."
"We're all brothers and sisters in binds now, thief," said Ralof.
"Shut up back there!" said the driver.
The horse thief looked at the man with a gag over his mouth. "And what's wrong with him?"
"Watch your tongue!" said Ralof. "You're speaking to Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, the true High King of Skyrim!"
The horse thief went pale. "Ulfric Stormcloak? You're the leader of the rebellion! If you're here...oh Gods, where are they taking us?".
"I don't know where we're going," said Ralof. "But Sovngarde awaits."
"No, this isn't happening!" said the horse thief. "This can't be happening!"
Ralof sighed. "Hey, what's your name, horse thief? What village are you from?"
"Why do you care?" snapped the thief.
"A Nord's last thoughts should be of home."
"My name is Lokir. And...Rorikstead. I'm-I'm from Rorikstead."
He could see city walls ahead, with Imperial troops and officers standing inside the town.
"Helgen. That's where they're taking us," said Ralof.
The cart rolled into the city. A man, maybe in his mid-50s, watched them solemnly.
"General Tullius, sir!" said a guard. "The headsman is waiting!"
The carts slowed to a stop by a blood-stained wood block, where a tall man with an axe stood waiting.
An imperial soldier with a quill and parchment walked over to them, with a female Imperial officer following him.
"Let's get this over with..." muttered the soldier with a quill.
All the prisoners climbed out of their carts.
"Lokir of Rorikstead!" shouted the scribe.
"Empire loves their lists," said Ralof.
"No! You can't do this!" shouted Lokir.
"Face your death with some courage, thief," said Ralof.
"You can't do this! I'm not a rebel!" shouted Lokir, and ran toward the exit of the city.
"Halt! Archers!" yelled the officer.
Lokir got about 50 yards away before five arrows struck him in the back, and he toppled over.
"Anyone else feel like running?" she yelled.
"Ralof of Riverwood!" called the scribe.
The Nord stepped forward. "Long time, no see, Hadvar."
The scribe grumbled.
Hadvar looked at him. "Who...are you?"
He frowned. "I don't-" then he remembered. "I'm Samuel Strongsword," he said.
"You're a long way from the Imperial City. What're you doing in Skyrim?"
Hadvar turned to the officer. "What should we do? He's not on the list."
She straightened. "He goes to the block."
Hadvar turned to Samuel. "I'm sorry. I'll make sure your remains are returned to Cyrodiil."
Samuel walked over to the block with the other prisoners. A priest in golden robes stepped forward.
"As we commend your souls to Sovngarde, blessings of the Eight Divines upon you--" she said.
A Stormcloak interrupted her. "For the love of Talos, shut up and let's get this over with!" and walked in front of the block. He knelt down and rested his head on the wood.
"The gods are smiling at me Imperials," he said. "Can you say the same?"
The executioner raised his axe above his head, and dropped it onto the brave soldier's neck. The head fell into a bucket, where a worker picked it up and carried away, along with the body.
"Next, the renegade from Cyrodiil!" said the officer.
Samuel stepped forward. A distant roar was heard over by the Throat of the World, the highest peak in Tameriel. He knelt down and rested his head on the fresh bloodstained block, uttering one last prayer to Akatosh and Arkay. Just before the axe went up the air, a huge, black dragon swooped out from behind the mountain disappeared behind a watchtower. It rose again onto the roof, and roared.
"What in Oblivion is that?" screamed General Tullius.
The dragon brought down raining fire from the heavens with a spell, spoken in Dovah, the language of dragons. The executioner was killed and Samuel stood up, unsure what to do. Ralof nudged him, his bonds cut.
"Hey, Imperial," he said. "Come on. The gods won't give us another chance!"
Samuel ran after him, who was quite a speedy fellow despite his large size. They ran into a watchtower. Ralof closed the door. Ulfric Stormcloak was inside, his gag gone.
"Jarl Ulfric!" said Ralof. "What is that thing? Could the legends be true?"
"Legends don't burn down villages."
Ralof turned to Samuel. "Up through the tower! Let's go!"
They walked up the steps, onto a small landing. A pile of rocks blocked the stairway, a Stormcloak soldier trying to move them. "If I can just--"
The dragon's face broke through the wall, the soldier crushed by debris. Fire burst from the beast's mouth. Samuel tumbled backward, Ralof catching him. The dragon flew away to another part of town. They looked through the hole and saw a building below them, the thatch roof burned away.
"See the inn on the other side? Jump through the roof and keep going! Go! I'll follow when I can!"
Samuel gulped, and leaped through the hole, dropping onto the second floor of the inn. He walked down the partially burned stairs and back outside. A child, who looked about twelve, ran toward a soldier, his father lying on the ground, dead.
"Hamming, you're doing great!" said the soldier. Samuel recognized his voice as Hadvar's.
Hamming ran into Hadvar's arms, and the soldier picked him up. "You'll be alright!"
He set the boy down next to an older man. "Gunnar, take care of the boy. I need to find General Tullius and join the defense. He looked at Samuel. "Still alive, prisoner? Follow me if you want to stay that way!"
They across the road and behind a destroyed house. The city wall stood behind them.
"Stay close the wall!" yelled Hadvar. The dragon landed on the wall above them, his talon grazing Samuel's shoulder. However, it didn't seem to notice them. It rose into the air and flew somewhere else. They kept running, into the area where the carts entered. A man in Roman-looking armor was aiming a bow at the dragon.
"Into the keep Hadvar!" he shouted. "We're leaving!"
"Yes, General Tullius!"
They ran toward a large castle. Ralof ran toward it as well, from a a different direction. He was brandishing an iron axe.
Ralof, you traitor!" shouted Hadvar. "Outta my way!"
"We're escaping, Hadvar!" shouted Ralof over the chaos. "You're not stopping us this time!
"Fine! I hope that dragon takes you all to Sovngarde!" said Hadvar.
He ran away into the keep. Ralof led Samuel inside.
Samuel's eyes stung from the smoke. Had a dragon really just attacked?
Ralof sat in a chair. "Looks like we were the only ones that made it. That thing was a dragon. No doubt. Just like the children's stories and legends. The harbingers of the End Times. We better get moving. Let me see if I can get those bindings off."
He took a small knife and cut Samuel's rope bindings. He rubbed his wrists and itched his nose. That had been bothering him the whole time.
A dead Stormcloak lay in front of them, clutching an axe. Ralof knelt next to him and kissed his forehead.
"We will meet again in Sovngarde, brother," he said.
He turned to Samuel. "You should take Gunjar's gear. He won't need it where he's going..."
Samuel, with difficulty, took the Stormcloak armor off Gunjar. He walked into a small jail to put it on in privacy. He went back to Gunjar's body and took the axe. It felt a bit too light in his hand, but it would have to do for now. They ran forward down the hall, the ceiling shaking dust. Ralof stopped Samuel outside a closed gate, a lever next to it. He looked inside and saw four iron cages in the room, each big enough to fit one man. Rolaf backed away from the gate, but an Imperial soldier who was inside saw him. Three others joined him, each holding a sword. One pulled a lever on their side, opening the gate. Samuel was too scared to fight. He put his hand out, knowing it wouldn't stop a sword, but unable to ignore his primal instincts.
To his surprise, flames erupted out of Samuel's hand, setting the attacker on fire. He looked at his hand, which had a fireball spinning centimeters above his palm. He shot the flame again, killing the soldier. Ralof had made quick work of the other two, being a trained soldier. Samuel picked up the fallen soldier's sword, the blade feeling much more balanced in weight. Ralof looked into one of the cages, then tossed a lock pick to Samuel.
"Torture chamber," he said. "You can use magic. There's a spell book in that cage. Unlock it and take the book. You never now when it might come in handy."
Samuel slid the pick into the lock, twisting and turning until the door burst open. A skeleton in purple mage's robes was lying there, clutching a dark blue book with a lightning bolt on the front. He opened up the book and electricity shot out of it and into his ears. He shook his head to regain his senses and a single sentence appeared on the pages:
YOU HAVE LEARNED THE SPELL SPARKS.
Samuel put his left hand out in front of him and blue lightning shot out, setting fire to the mage skeleton. He and Ralof continued on. The tunnels got deeper and deeper, until the walls weren't even paved with brick anymore. (Is it paved when it's a wall??)
"How deep does this tunnel go?" asked Samuel.
"No one knows for sure," said Ralof. "The keep is built on top of an old Nord burial ground. They would have sealed off this area, but it's honorary to leave burial areas untouched."
"Why is that?" asked Samuel. In Cyrodiil, anything that wasn't residential was torn down if something had to be built over it. Skyrim already seemed strange, and he'd only seen one city of it.
"Wouldn't want to anger the spirits, would we?"
Samuel fought the urge to burst out laughing. The went deeper into the cavern tunnels, until they came across a room lined with cobwebs, dead animals hanging from the ceiling by web sacs. Three huge spiders dropped from the ceiling, and immediately began advancing toward the pair of ex-prisoners. Before he could stab it with his sword, one spider's pincer went into Samuel's arm. His blood and skin went cold. He fell over, his skin becoming a sickly shade of ice blue. He thought of fire. Warm, burning, warm, welcoming, warm fire. His hand shot out flames at the spiders, his body becoming incredibly hot.
"Ralof, get down!" he shouted before a ring of fire burst from his body.
The spiders, being Skyrim Frostbite Spiders, are especially weak to fire. The flame destroyed their naturally frigid little bodies, and they fell over. Ralof took a bottle from his satchel and squeezed the navy blue poison from the pincer. He put a cork in the bottle and tossed it Samuel.
"Dip in an arrow or coat this on a sword, and it sends to the poison into your enemy when you attack," he said.
Samuel thanked him and put it away. They brushed aside the thick cobwebs and ventured on. There was a huge cave, and to the side was a tunnel with snow and cold air pouring in.
There was a huge cave, and to the side was a tunnel with snow and cold air pouring in.
"A way out," said Ralof.
They stepped forward and heard a low growl. A bear was sleeping on pile of bones near them. It slowly got up and lumbered over to them. Samuel glanced down and saw a skeleton with a bow and a quiver of arrows, probably a long dead adventurer who didn't watch where he was going. Samuel pulled an arrow out of the quiver and notched it into the bow. He raised it up and let the arrow fly forward. It landed right between the bear's beady yellow eyes. They ran out into the way out, a thin crack in a mountainside. They burst into the snowy plain, quite near the bottom on the mountain.
Just as they got out, the dragon rose over the mountain and flew off into the distance.
"There he goes," said Ralof. "Looks like he's gone for good this time. No way to know if anyone else made it out alive. But this place is going to be swarming with Imperials soon enough. We'd better clear out of here. My sister Gerdur runs the mill in Riverwood, just up the road. I'm sure she'd help you out. It's probably best if we split up. Good luck, I wouldn't have made it without your help today."