lördag 11 mars 2017

The Season Unending Overview page

Lo folks this is the overview page for my Skyrim Fanfic Season unending. Here links will be posted for the different books and chapters and also for related work such as scrapped pieces.
Oh the elder scrolls franchise is the property of Bethesda so is all related work. If anyone who knows these things could comment and tell me whether that means I got to take the adds of the page it would be great.


The Elder Scrolls: The Season Unending

Book 1: Autumn of Anarchy
Chapter 1: 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201




Related things:
Introductary post with teaser
Scrapped first chapter: Traveling in Skyrim

The Elder scrolls, Fanfic: The Season Unending, Book 1: Autumn of Anarchy, Chapter 1: 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

Chapter 1:
17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

Actius Arcturus woke up startled, he rolled out of his bedroll and reached for his knife. He had heard sound, a roaring sound, he peeked out if the tent. The sun was already up, though that was hardly surprising, you did not need to go much further north to end up in the land of the midnight sun, though that would have ended a few weeks earlier. The hillside outside the tent with dew as the frost of this night had thawed when the first rays of the sun had hit it. It was only mid Last Seed, yet this far north and this far into the mountains you still had frost in during the nights. The pale pass even further up would already have mudded down, making it impossible to get a wagon through it, effectively ending its use for anything but lone traveler son foot or horseback, another few weeks and the snow would begin and the pass would close entirely.
Though seeing all this Actius could not see any beast that may have made the roaring sound he had thought he had heard, no bears, nor wolves, no trolls nor werewolves. Nor even people who might have been were wolves a few moment earlier.
Actius withdrew into the tent and started getting dressed. Even in the summers a sudden bout of bad weather could kill you if you weren't well dressed. You could for an example have a snowstorm blowing down from one of the higher peaks, Skyrim was never to warm for freak snowstorms, not even down on the plains of Whiterun far far below.
Actius stringed his bow and stepped outside pulling an arrow from the quiver, the stood entirely still as soon as he left the tent. The key to not being seen was not moving, he slowly scanned the area around him with his eyes then slowly turned his head to scan the rest of the scene. Nothing. The village of Helgen was situated down in the pass below him, some wagons rolling towards the town, from Haemar's pass in the east as far as Actius could tell, and the vast imperial encampment beyond it. The empire had brought and entire extra legion into Skyrim because of the civil war. Moving more than a thousand men plus supplies and support through the pale pass will not have improved considerations up there.
Well it appeared that he had only dreamed the roar but it was morning and he might as well check his traps. He threw a last glance down towards the imperial encampment, he  was no big fan of the empire, he had grown up in the imperial capital, but had to leave there some years earlier rather hastily as he had made himself powerful enemies, but for all he feared that his troubles would catch up to him, the empire was way better than the alternative, these Stormcloaks.
Oswulf Lichbreaker, Oswulf of Valtheim woke up startled, he had been sitting sleeping on the back of the wagon, hardly a comfortable position but with his legs and hand tied he had little choice in the matter. Three days, three days had he spent almost constantly sitting on this wagon, before that one day as they had stopped in Ivarstead, and another two days from darkwater crossing before that. He glanced over to the other cart, Raolf was sitting talking to some horsethief they had picked up in Ivarstead and Uldric Stormcloak was still bound and gagged. He wondered if either of them had a plan. A week earlier he would have scoffed at the idea of Raolf having much of plan but he had grown to respect the resourcefulness of the man as they had shed blood together on the ford at darkwater crossing.
It had been just after Oswulf joined Ulfric, which was just after Ulfric had slain the old high king in single combat. Ulfric was a veteran of the great war and understood these matters, he had known that, while the legion in Skyrim was fracturing as it's members picked a side, the empire would soon send another legion into the province. As such he had moved to prevent it. He had mustered all his men, his soldiers at jarl of Windehelm, his old militia that had helped him in his war in the reach twenty years earlier, the defectors from the Skyrim legion, all these, and others, and he had taken them south to block the Rift pass, hoping that holding one one of the pass would give him the strategic advanatage he needed to keep the a numerically superior enemy force out of SKyrim long enough for winter to close the passes, and then have Skyrim consolidated before the spring reopened them. His bid had been  strengthened  by two things, first of the imperial garrison at for Greenwall had mutinied and turned bandit allowing Ulfric to ignore the fort as he marched south, secondly the jarl of The Rift,  Laila Law-Giver had declared her support of him and sought t add her troops to his rather than oppose and delay him. But that never had a chance to happen, soon after passing Fort Greenwall a courier had arrived and informed them that as they were marching south the remenant of the Skyrim legion was  marching  east into the now unguarded eastmarch, heading for the hold capital, and Ulfrics own city, of Windhelm. Knowing his men would soon abandon him if he let their families die Ulfric had had no chocie but to turn he army around and march north again sending messege for jarl Laila to use her troops to hold the Rift pass as long as possible. The imperial forces must have been warned of their approach for they too turned around and made their stand at the ford at Darkwater crossing, the terrain was t their advantage being on the defensive on the far side of a ford Uldric needed to take to defend his own lands, but Ulfric outnumbered the imperial forces almost two to one. He had ordered the attack hoping ti sweep the imperial forces away with the sheer fury of his attack, but the well trained and disciplined imperial soldiers had held, Ulfric had been forced to settle for a slow battle of attrition to make his soldiers wear down the imperials. It was a good plan, simple, but the best plans often were as far as Oswulf was concerned, and it likely would have succeeded. If not for one thing that they had not known. Guessing that Ulfric would block the Rift pass the second Cyrodiil legion had marched into Skyrim not through the Rift pass which was still held by Jarl Laila, but through the much more risky pale pass in the west, in Falkreth. When they had left Windhelm Falkreth had been under the control of Jarl  Dengeir of Stuhn, one of Ulfric's oldest and truest supporters, but there appeared to have been a coup in Falkreth and his nephew  Siddgeir, an impeiral supporter, has overthrown his uncle and opened the pale pass to the imperials, who had marched north through the pass unhindered by  nothing  but the elements, and while the pale pass were really not suitable for major troop  movements  the empire in desperation had made it work. As such on the second day of fighting an imperial army had appeared at their back with almost twice as many men as Uldric had had to begin with. Ulfric's reminaing forces had been pushed into the river from both sides, determined to save the lives of as many of his men as possible Ulfric had told most of his forces to scatter downriver while moving his honourguard upriver, confident that the imperials would chose to concentrate on him rather than hunting down stragglers. When as many men as would get away had gotten away Ulfric had surrendered to save as many lives as possible, his hopes that a chance for rescue or escape would appear later on, though none had. Roughly a hundred men had been captured by the imperials, and now sat bound on the back on ten wagons, they had initially tried to bring them back to Cyrodiil, but jarl Laila had denied them passage through The Rift Pass, and then they had tried to use The pale pass, but it had been left so badly muddied by the  their first march through it for the wagons to be able to pass through, thus they had turned back toward Helgen, which they were now approaching  End of the line,  thought Oswulf.
He caught a glimpse of the perfect lines of imperial tents in their camps before the passed though the gate into the town. The army had marched directly here when they had heard of Jarl laila's contunued reistance to them, deployed to hol this end of the one remaining pass to Cyrodiil at all costs. Helgen was the largest town in Falkreth hold, yes the village of Falkreth, far to the west, was the capital of the hold but Helgen had almost five hundred people living in it, while Falkreth had about half that and had kept shrinking ever since the empire lost Hamerfell, and thus the passes to the west had lost most of their economic and strategic importance. The pale pass was not nearly as wide as the rift pass but it still served individual merchants well enough, at least during the height of summer.
The dirt roads of Helgen were lined with imperial soldiers on both sides, ever watchful for any attempt by the crowd beyond them to attempt to free the rebels. Oswuld wondered if any soldiers came from his own ancestral lands of Valtheim, what news they would in that case bring back to his father and elder brother.
He realized that now there seemed to be even more people here than the usual population, not just imperial soldiers but also people who looked like they were refugees from other parts of Skyrim, probably displaced by the war. Oswuld shook his head it was ok for the foreigners but many of these were nords, abandonind their homeland rather than fighting for it, disgraceful. But not all of them were nords, he saw two darskinned redgards from Hammerfell, their strange scarfs wrapped around their necks and long curved swords at their belt stood and watched the wagons pass with little if no intrest. And another group,  standing  just north of the Helgen keep, who could be Bretons but more likely were Reachmen, the now almost extinct aboriginal people of Skyrim's westernmost hold, known simply as The Reach. Some of the reachmen were avoiding to look at the wagons as they passed, but most of them glared with such feverent hatred at Ulfric that it almost caused Oswuld concern, they certainly looked like they would like to tear Ulfric apart with their bare hands. Oswulf could not understand their hatred of him, twentyfive years ago the Reachmen had risen up in the reach and for two years had reigned it in terror, summonin daedra practicing foul rites and butchering every nord they could get their hands on, then after th great war ended Uldric and his militia had defeated them, but Ulfric ever  magnanimous has spared all who would accept to live in peace with the nords, a gracious offer after how they had treated nords under their rule, yet most reachmen had refused  disappearing  into the hills of their homelands and  becoming  the foresworn , barbarians and bandits and murders who raided outlying nord farms and trade caravans. All Ulfric had ever done to them was end their reign of terror yet they still harboured such hatred for him. Oswulf put it from his mind, the Reachmen, like the somewhat more civilized Bretons, were part elves, their kind could not be expected to act like true humans, hatred for mankind simply ran in their blood, passed down from those of their  ancestors, the elves who had resisted humanity's first push into Tamriel. Who had a sacked the first human settlement on the continent, Saarthal, during the infamous night of tears, and butchered the entire population. Aside from Ysgramor who had returned to altmora and gathered his five hundred companions to revenge themselves upon the elves for this unwarranted act of  aggression. Speakign of elves he could even spy a an altmer,a   high elf, wearing imperial officers uniform. Disgraceful, the almter were the  ancestral  enemy of the empire now they were  commanding  it's soldiers.
The wagons had turned around the keep and a few houses right next to it and then rolled unto a big plaze just south of it. There they stopped. In the middle of the plaza was a platform upon which stood a block and a headsman. Oswulf kept his face controlled, he had known this was probably where it was going to end. He was the younger son of a noble house, he had always known he would not die of old age but die bringing glory to his family, he would have preferred it to be on the battlefield, but standing up for Talos, the hero god of man, against the empire, that Talos had created but who had fallen under the influence of elves and rejected the very god hero who created it, would have to be enough. No point in complaining about what the gods had in stores for them. Talos had alfter all become one with Lorkhan the god who had created man, who was also the missing god Shor, who was the ruler of the afterlife home of the brave, Sovrngard, so standing up for Talos would have to count for something with the lord of the afterlife.
As the wagons were being emptied legate Fasendil, were overlooking his troops formation, granted these were not really his troops, his own troops had been left in the Rift, but these were troops he had been assigned command of. he chanced a glance up hill. General Tullius, the imperial commander of the empire's forces in Skyrim was talking to one of the Thalmor, one of his fellow Almter, high elves, but not like him. The Thalmor were the ruling body of the Aldmeri dominion, the other power of Tamriel from the Cyrodiilic emprire which Fasendil served. The Thalmor were elven supremecists, they believed that man was inferior to mer, or elves as the human caleld them, and that non pureblooded elves such as the Bosmer, wood elves, Dunmer, dark elves, or Orsimer, orcs were inferior to pure blooded elves which is what they regarded thr Altmer as. Though of if they hated one thing more than lowborn elves and men, it was altmer like Fasendil who they felt betrayed their kind.
The dominion and the empire has fought a massive war only some twenty five years earlier, a war the aldmeri had starteed and a war that had ended with a victory for them, as part of this war the worship of Talos, who was once Tiber Septim, the founder of the empire, ascended to godhood, had been outlawed, under pain of death, initially the empire had been charged with upholding that law but when they Thalmor realized that the empire were intentionally doing a shoddy job of it they had demanded to be allowed to police it themselves. As such Thalmor agents now policed all of the Cyrociilic empire, looking for worshippers of Talos, elven defectors, and other undesirables. It was one of the leading causes of the current civil war in Skyrim.
The Thalmor Tullius was talking to wasn't any Thalmor either, it was Elenwen, the commander of the Thalmor forces in Cyrodiil. Fasendil edged closer to hear what they were saying,.
"Your Emperor will hear of this. By the terms of the White-Gold Concordat, I operate with full Imperial authority!" Elenwen snarled at the general
"I already told you, ambassador, that your authority is strictly restricted to enforcing the terms of the white gold concordat, Ulfric Stormcloak is here to be sentenced for treason and murder, neither crime which falls under the jurisdiction of the Thalmor"
"Ulfric Stormcloak is a self confessed Talos worshipper..."
"Yes, a fact for which you held him in prison for over twenty years! If you were so certain he was unrepentant then why did you let him go? I am sorry but the Thalmor has already let Ulfric Stormcloak slip through their fingers once with disastrous consequences, I will not permit that to happen again"
"You're making a terrible mistake" Elenwen informed him coldly. the general just ignored her, her rod past her and then saw Fasendil.
"Legate!"
"Yes general!" Fasendil replied quickly
"You know better than to eavesdrop on the conversations of your superiors"
"I am sorry general, it won't happen again"
"See that it don't"
"Yes general" the general nodded and made a missive motion with his hand. "General?" Fasendil called his   attention again. Tullius looked at him with eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Yes legate?" he replied with a mix of amusement and irritation in his voice.
"You did the right thing, if you had turned over Ulfric to the Thalmor he'd be back in Windhelm this time tomorrow" Fasendil noted. General Tullius game him an apraising look, then nodded once aknoledging that he had heard the leggate but not commenting further on his statement and then rode over to the wagons and dismounted.
Actius was climbing down a steep hillside carrying two rabbit that he has snared. He was king of glad he hadn't gotten anything bigger, he would already have to change his original plan to sell pelts and furs in Helgen, with the imperial presence there it simply wasn't worth the risk. It was unlikely that anyone down there would know him but why risk it at all? No he would head west to Falkreth, he would get less for his pelts there, but there was no helping that.
It was then that he heard the sound again, the same sound that had awoken him that very morning. A roar, so loud that it made the roar of an angry giant seem like a whisper and seemed to fray on the fabric of reality itself.
He dropped down into a crouch, he was far to exposed on the hillside like this but there was no helping it, moving would only make him more visible. He scanned the landscape for the origin of the sound and then he found in sweeping down from one of the lower mountains of the side of the throat of the world, the highest mountain in all of tamriel, was a flying shape, and by how far it was from Actius and how big it looked from here it he concluded that it was immense. He had once seen one of the gargoyles that vampires sometimes use to protect their stronghold, this thing had wings too but there the similarities ended. This was not a gargoyle, it could only really be one thing. A dragon, and it was heading directly for Helgen.

Oswulf looked up at the sudden sound. What was that, it sounded distant yet it echoed of the surrounding mountains in a way that suggested it was incredibly loud. There also seemed to be something odd about it, it was   a roar yet it seemed it carried words in some strange language. The imperials had just chopped of the head of one of Ulfric's officers now everyone had stopped and looked around themselves in fear.
"What was that!" the imperial captain shouted.
"Forget the rest! Ulfric is the important one!" General Tullius commanded. He looked to the captain who was still watching the skies "Captain! Do as you are told!" The captain jumped as if startled, looked and him then tooka   depp breath and collected herself. "You heard the man, Get Ulfric Stormcloak up here!" Two men grabbed Ulfric and started dragging him towards the platform and the headsman, Oswulf knew he neede dot do something, he charge the closest of the men despite his hand being bound. He could see Raolf doing the same thing on the other side, for a few moments there were struggle but then the guard that Oswulf had attacked got his shield arm free and bashed Oswulf sending him flying down into the mud. Oswulf lay on the groudn panting as he heard the other guard know down Raolf,   he started struggling to his feet despite his mouth tasting of blood, he could not allow them to kill Ulfric. But getting to his feet with his hands bound was harder than he thought and he fell over again. Then he heard the sound again, much much loser and much much louder then before.
"What in Oblivion is that!" He heard general Tullius shout. Then more roaring then the sound of fire, words being drawn, and crossbows beign fired. He felt soemone tug at him. And flipped him over, it was Raolf he had gotted his hand free soemhow and he had a knife, he cut Oswulf's hands free.
"I would appear that the gods have given us another chance, let's not waste it!" He called to Oswulf as he puleld him to his feet. Oswulf got up and what faced him was the scene from a nightmare, perched on top of the main keep in Helgen sat a black dragon, so massive that it made the walls of the keep crack under it's sheer weight. Oswuld just stared it at but Raolf tugged at him.
"Let's go!" he roared. Oswulf caught his senses and started running after Raolf towards one of the lesser towers, he threw a glance backward seeing the dragon throwing itself into a formation of imperial crossbowmen crushing a dozen of them under it's sheer bulk and then with claws tail and wings sending the rest flying some even being thrown over the wall. More than fifty people wiped out in an instant. All around him the townsfolk were fleeing while the imperial legionaries seemed to be of two minds, some joined the in their flight but a remarkable lot did what Oswulf wasn't sure he could have brought himself to do, they moved to stop the dragon. Some just charged some took pot shots with their bows or crossbows others locked shields to forma   wall between the dragon and the fleeing townsfolk. Yet others were hurling throwing spears and javelins at it. Oswulf had seen the imperial legion in combat at darkwater crossing, but it wasn't until now he really realized just how impressive a fighting machine the imperial legion really was. Likely they were all going to die, yet only handful in almost a thousand men deserted the others did what they were ordered to do and turned to face this being out of a nightmare. He reached the door of the tower and ducked inside. Ulfric was there and to Oswulf's relief he was uninjured. Uldric had gotten rid of the gag and was now speakign to Raolf.
"Legends don't burn down villages" he told Raolf. He turned to Oswulf "I see you are still with us Lichbreaker" he said with a wide smile. "You may claim that your reputation is unwarranted but I am beginning to think that you are indeed everything it promises you would be, assaulting an imperial legion with you hands tied certainly is a new watermark".
"Those people out there" he panted "Jarl Ulfric, we got to help them!"
"There is nothing we can do for them that the legion is not already doing, we got to make sure that whether the dragon or the legion wins we are no longer here when they do"
"You ahve th thu'um!"
"As do that dragon, listen to it's roars, can you not hear the words upon it? That it the Thu'um and on a level beyond anything I can do." Jarl Ulfric listened and then seemed to grow pale "Besides if what it is saying is true..."
"What is it saying Jarl Ulfric?" Raolf asked, clearly perplexed by the idea of the dragon saying anything.
"'I am Alduin, most mighty of any in the world'" Ulfric translated. the Stormcloaks around him just stared.

The smoke from Helgen made Actius choke, the smell of burning wood, stone and flesh. The dragon had attacked the town detroyed it and most of the imperial legion stationed around it. then it had rampaged through the ruins for a good hour as if intent on not leaving a single stone upon one another before finally taking of. Actius hadn't been born when the great war ended, he had never seen destruction on this scale before, probably around a thousand people wiped out in less than the span of three hours. Growing up he had seen a certain look in the eyes of the older generation, those who had witnessed the war, he now knew he would forever be marked by that look too. After the dragon had left Actius had sat on his spot on the hillside for a considerable amount of time fearing that if he moved the dragon might come back, it was an irrational fear of course but seeing destruction on this scale was a very good invoker or irrational fears.
As Actius approached his camp site he heard voices, someone was there, he crouched low and saw three stormcloak soldiers, two swordsmen and an archer, with two imperial prisoners, one of them clearly wounded, ransacking his camp, his precious furs scattered in the mud. They were probably looking for food. Actius stood and called out to them.
"Is there something I can help you with Stormcloaks!" He called a edge to his voice "Those are my things you are looting" the stormcloaks span around in chock and gawked at him.
"Who's there!" one of them called out, one of the ones with sword and shield "Come forward so we can see you" this one was obliviously the leader. Actius stepped a bit closer.
"An imperial spy!" the leader of the stormcloaks said when they got a better look at Actius. The archer aimed his bow at Actius, he kept it drawn as he aimed, clearly the bow and arrow was not his usual weapon. Only amateurs aimed with a drawn bow if held that way for long his arm would stiffen and his aim would suffer as a result.
"Hardly, just a hunter"
"Is that so? You're one of Jarl Sidgeirs hunters? Well Sidgeir had taken the side of the imperials against Skyrim so that again means you are an imperial spy"
"I am not with the jarl"
"Oh I see so not an imperial spy then, an imperial thief and poacher. These beasts belong to the people of Skyrim, you had no right to take them we, we are the true sons of skyrim and we are taking them back"
"So what you're saying I should just walk away and let you take what you want"
"Who said anything about letting you walk away imperial?" the leader replied and made a motion toward the archer whe drew the bow even further, Actius was not particularly scared, he was a considerable distance away still and the man had clearly overdrawn not to mention he seemed to be a louse archer at best. "There are enough imperials in slyrim as is, it matters little if you are a spy or a thief I am a lot more confortable if you're not sneaking around in these hills"
"Is that so? Well that changes things" Actium replied coldly taking several deep breaths and preparing.
"How so?"
"That means this is self defence" Actius shouted and drew and shot an arrow while taking a step to the side. Not that he really needed to take that step, the arrow of the stormcloak archer was no where near ether him or where he had been, in return Actius' arrow punched straight into the neck of the stormcloak archer. He fell slumping to the ground as the force of the impact broke his neck and killed him instantly. The stormcloaks reacted, brandishing his sword the leader charged Actius who relaized he would not have time to get another arrow of, atleast not if he wanted any hope of defending himself if he missed, he thre the bow and quiver and drew his long knife, while the same size as a small shortsword the knife was more of a tool than it was a weapon. Behind the stormcloak leader the other stormcloak took a few steps forward not knowing if he should follow his leader in the charge of keep watch on his prosinder. Truth be told either would have worked, but this half measure left his back exposed to the unhurt prisoner who quickly took a step in behind him drew the belt knife of the stomcloak and buried it in his back. Meanwhile the officer reached Actius who did a dance of desperate parries and dodges. He would have prefered to shoot all three stormcloak soldiers before they even saw him but he wasn't really all that comfortable with shooting people to begin with never mind assassinating three people in cold blood. Actius made a little to ambitious a dodge and found himself falling backwards, the stormcloak leader stepped forward sword raised and a grin of furious triumph on his face he swung downwards only for his blade to be parried. The imperial soldier, actually impeiral officer, Actius realized, had taken the sword of the stormcloak he had backstabbed and ran face the remaining stormcloak. After parrying the blow he did a twist of the blade forcing the stormcloak backwards, and himself stepping in front of Actius. Actius scrambled to his feet in time to see the end of the duel. The stormcloak was clearly outmatched, during his youth in the imperial capital Actius had once seen a show fight between two swordmasters, this was nothing like it, the imperial officer did not have that kind of training, but he was a professional with a lot of training and experience, the best that could be said for his opponent was that he was brave. After being pushed back a dozen steps he launched into a frenzy of attacks but each was parried if not with ease then with a meticulous efficiency, the stormcloak grew more tired with every strike he attempted, finally he missed altogether as the imperial officer simply took a step tot he side, his miss left him open and the imperial officer grabbed his sword with both hands and ran it straight through his opponents chest. The imperial officer stood there frozen with this sword in the gut of his enemy for a few heartbeats then he released the sword and the stormcloak collapsed on the ground. Ignoring Actius he picked up the blade the stormcloak leader had dropped and turned and walked back to the stormcloak he had stabbed in the back ealier, actius followed him. The man was still alive.
"Please" he choacked as the imperial officer came up to him "Please no, I don't want to die" Actius realized that the stormcloak was little more than a boy, probably not even twenty years old, some of the stormcloaks were been defectors from the imperial legion, this boy clearly wasn't one of them.
"You are dead already" The imperial officer said with a careful exact pronunciation. "You will slowly drown in your own blood, the only thing I can do for you, is a quick death" he said raising the blade.
"Damn you elf" the stormcloak spat "And then as the blade came down he whimped "Mother" before the blade ended his life. Again the imperial officer stood frozen for a moment before releasing his grip on the sword and straightening himself. Actius realized he was looking to see the life leave the eyes of his opponent. Though he could not really say why anyone would willingly do that.
Finally the imperial officer turned to him and took his helmet of. Actius was surprised, the man who stood before him was not a man at all, he was an elf, and altmer, high elf. Actius had heard the now dead stormcloak call the imperial an elf but his mind had not realy registered it before he saw his face. His skin was a pale golden colour just like most altmer, his eyes were slated almond shapes and a bright yellow, and he had long blonde hair slicked back from a rather 
"I thank you for your aid citizen" he said slightly reclining his head in what might have been a small bow or a curt nod. Actius shrugged.
"You did most of it yourself" he pointed out.
"But you gave me the opportunity. "Though as you said yourself it was self defence" he turned toward his wounded companion.
"Unlike what you did" Actius said before he could stop himself, the elf glanced back at him.
"Yes... unlike what I did" he said with a rueful smile. "I am a soldier, I go where the empire says I should go and i kill who the emprie says I should kill, it has been like that for a long time now" Actius felt a bit  ashamed  with himself, this man had just saved his life. The elf kneeled beside his friend and talked to him. The other imperial was a nord, with long dark blonde hair, clean shaven like most imperial soldiers.
"How are you feeling soldier?"
"I'm  all right  legate" the solider replied.
"You're not all right you took a really bad beating back there"
"Don't worry I'll be up as soon as the world stops spinning long enough for me to stand up without throwing up" the legate nodded then looked at Actium.
"My friend is pretty badly bruised, we'll need to  trespass  upon your hospitality a little further" Actius didn't like the idea at all, but then again it wasn't really a request.
"Sure, as long as you need" He said trying to feign actual entusiasm. The legate nodded.
"I am legate Fasendil of the second legion of the imperial army"
"Actius Arcturus, self employed" Actius said with a faint smile.
"Poacher" Fasendil translated.
"I keep getting that comment today" Actius grinned.
"Can't imagine why" the imperial soldier on the ground chuckled. "I am Hadvar of Riverwood" he introduced himself.

"But several of our patrols have not returned yet my lord" the stormcloak scout unformed him. Oswulf Lichbreaker made an irritated grimace. Having to explain himself to this commoner! Ulric was  a great leader but the organisation of his forces left quite a lot to be desired.
"If they are still alive they'll have to catch up with us" he explained and then repeated his order "we march for Haemar's pass immedeatly"
After having escaped Helgen they had gathered their forces east of town, Ulfric and ten men of his bodyguard tgey had   managed to find horses for a d they had ridden immedeatly for Windhelm. They could not permit their leader to be captured again. Ulfric had left Oswulf in charge of gathering up the survivors. He had managed to gather up about half of the roughly hundred men that the imperial had been shipping to Helgen for execution. Any who had not yet been found he was fairly confident would not be found either. He had even had small parties out harrying the surviving imperial and trying to rescue any remaining prisoners, not tenting salvaging for supplies amongst the ruins. What the scout said was right two such groups, a total.of ten men,   had yet to return but again Oswulf was relativly certain that they would not return either. It was a gamble he had made he had known some would not return when he sent them out, but because he had the imperial would take longer to regroup their survivors,not to mention his scouts had killed more than twice their numbers in imperial stragglers. And secured supplies they would need for their march east. It was a sucessor even haven lost almost a fifth of his men to it. Of course none had been more effective at it than Ulfric himself who had returned from his first and only sortie with a dozen horses.
"My lord" the scout began. Oswulf sighed.
"What is it now?" He asked. The scout pointed towards a bruised man who had just returned. Oswulf turned to him.
"Report?"   He demanded. The man was an old soldier probably a veteran from the great war. Someone who had himself been part of the imperial army until almost half of the Skyrim legion had defected at the onset of the civil war. The veterans always liked when proper military terms were used. The scout saluted.
"I am the only one returning from my group sir" he informed Oswulf.
"How come?" Oswulf asked.
"We found one if the thalmor sir, cost us three men in the fighting and the last one died of his wound on the way back. But that thalmor won't be dragging anyone's family of to be tortured ever again" Oswulf nodded, four men for one of the Thalmor was a good exchange. Granted Ulfric had told him not to waste men on trying to fight the Thalmor, but the deed was done chastising the man for having killed one of those elven butchers would only make Oswulf's men angry.
"You did well soldier" he is teas told him. "Get those wound seen to and get a ride on one of the wagons. We are leaving"
"What about the last group sir" the younger scout asked again.  Oswulf turned to his older comrade. "You've been out there,what are the odds of then still being alive?" 
"The legion is actually starting to muster quite large groups of stragglers, this was Jermund's group? The one who went west?" Oswulf nodded. "They are dead sir, I saw Tullius ride west at the head of a larger force than we had here and a dozen thalmor was marching that way too. Fortunately for us, unfortunatly for Jermund,they all seems to be going either north west toward Riverwood or directly west towards Falkreth. If we head east now we should be able to put a stopper in Haemund's pass and prevent them from pushing it to he rift."
Oswulf nodded,it was almost word for word what Ulfric had predicted they would do,and concluded that they themselves should do as a response.
"What is your name soldier?"
"Herman, sir"
"Well Herman for sucess in the battle against the thalmor I am promoting you to sergeant and placing as my second in command" replacing the whelp who kept questioning him Oswulf concluded with satisfaction.But it was also a move well liked by the men.  Rewarding bravery was always popular either the men. "See to that we get moving" the veteran saluted and then turned and started giving orders and very soon the preparations were underway. After someone was looking at Herman's wounds he told his comander "sir I really don't deserve the promotion, I wanted to avoid the thalmor, it was the others who were brave"
"Wanting to avoid a mere five on one odds against a thalmor makes you smart not cowardly"
"All I did was surviving"
"That's all I did to earn the nickname lichbreaker" Oswulf told him with a bitter smile. "You have seen the world sergeant, this is how things go, it is good for  the morale for the men to think it isn't but it's not the reality of things, who dies and who comes back is as much luck as it is skill"

Actius wasn't sure how he felt about the way the rabbit roasting above the fire smelled, while he was undoubtably hungry it also reminded him of the smell that still were carried down from Helgen whenever there was a gust of wind, the smell of  burning  flesh, not roasting  rabbit  but roasted people. He looked at his companions, they were  undoubtedly  feeling the same way.
Actius had spent what had remained of his afternoon tending to the wounded Hadvar, while Fasendil had removed anything valuable from the bodies of the dead stormcloaks and dragged the bodies away from the campp, wouldnät do for them to draw  scavengers  to the camp. When he had been finished he had taken over keeping an eye on their friend, who was no looking a lot better, while Actius has skinned and cooked the rabits he had caught that morning.
They ate in silence, every one of them lost in their own thoughts. When they had finished the legate looked up at Hadvar.
"How are you feeling now soldier?" He asked him.
"Much better sir" the nord answered.
"Well enough to travel in the morning?" The legate pushed. The soldier shrugged.
"Depends on where, if you're planning on returning to the rift... I don't think I'll be climbing up an down a mountain in the next week"
"I can't wait a week for you, I can't even spare the time to bring you to safety" the legate said with a sigh
"If I may offer a solution legate" Hadvar interjected, the legate looked at him then nodded.
"Speak"
"I have family in Riverwood, I could go there, I could make it there on my own, rest up and then head on to Solitude, it would also let me make sure they are allright"
"Are you certain you can make it to Riverwood on your own?"
"I grew up in these parts sir, I know them like the back of my hand, I just follow the road north and it'll take me to the lakeview hunterscamp, I can spend the first night there I know some of the hunters who live there well, and then I should be able to reach Riverwood the next day"
"That'll leave me free to go to the Rift" He paused "I'll need a guide through these mountains though" He looked up at Actius "The imperial legion would obviously compensate you well for your help."
"Me?"
"You live in these mountains, I dare say you know the way to Haemar's pass?"
"Yes... I do..." Actius stopped and though about it, he did know these mountains very well.
"And you are also a experienced woodsman and  mountaineer, the Stormcloaks will mostly have withdrawn east, if I am to avoid them I could really use your help" Actius nodded, knowing the terrain avoiding the Stormcloaks would not be easy.
"They are already ahead of us, they'll likely reach and shut Haemar's pass before we get there"
"So you're saying there is no way to get into the Rift?" Actius smiled.
"There are very few places I can't get in to if I want to legate" he said. "I could probalby sneak right though their camp if I needed to, steal the food of the plate of their commander as I did so, no the problem is getting you past"
"So you will do it?"
Actius stopped and thought, when had he decided to do it? He didn't want anything more than  necessary  to do with these imperials, it left him as considerable risk to keep dealing with them, but he also could not stop himself from considering the possibilities on how to get into the rift. Damn it this is always how I end up getting into trouble. He chided himself silently.
"I will do it, we'll keep of the road, see how far they have gotten, if getting you past them is not an option then there are other paths through these mountains, if one is  travelling  on foot and knows where to look. He looked at his camp, he'd have to abandon most of his furs and pelts though. Or atleast find somewhere to stash them..."
"I can bring your things to the lakeview camp, they'll hold on to them for you" Hadvar told him Actius looked up at him, that was a much better solution
"Can you carry them? You are wounded"
"It's all down hill there should be no problem, I might even meet some more imperial survivors along the way to give me a hand."
"Then it's settled" the legate said "Hadvar take the things you don't need for this trip to the Lakeview camp where they'll keep them for you, meanwhile you and I go east to the rift"
"Nothing is settled legate" Actius objected "You said I would be compensated, what kind of compensation are we taking here"
"five hundred septims if you can get me to the western rift inside of a week, lus I may decide to do something about your criminal records"
"I don't have a criminal record" Actius objected hurridly, the legate gave him a stern look.
"No then why does someone, who by the accent comes from the imperial capital, live alone in the Jerall mountains? Almost like he is running from something. And in my experience that something is usually the law" Actius decided it was best to change subject.
"Ok ok you got youserself a deal"

onsdag 1 mars 2017

Elder Scrolls Autumn of Anarchy Chapter 1: Traveling in Skyrim

Authours's note: I decided to move the events of unbound one month forward in time, the following event takes place on 17th Hearthfire (September). Oh and an imperial legion is a unit of roughly a thousand men, the imperial legion is also the organisation to which all imperial legions belong. A thousand men may seem a bit much but the roman ones were between 3.000 and 5.000.
Author's note 2: I'm thinking of moving the event back to their proper place.

Actius Arcturus woke up startled, he could have sworn he had heard a sound and he had been living out here in the wilderness of Skyrim long enough to know the difference between dream and reality. He got out if his blankets, the could see the first golden rays of dawn shining through the fabric of the tent. Despite being cold on this altitude it was still early autumn and in the summers the sun barely dipped beneath the horizon in Skyrim. He grabbed his dagger before peeking out. What had he heard? A roaring? Was there a bear in the camp? Now Skyrim's bears usually did not go after people. there were easier prey for them. Well he did not see any sign of a bear, nor of wolves, trolls, were wolves or anything else he knew that could make such a noise. He stopped into the tent again the get dressed and then climbed out.
He was camped a few miles away from the village of Helgen, a village that served as the lifeline of the white pass, one of only two passes that pass from Cyrodiil to Skyrim, the trade through the pass had made Helgen a rich town, in the summers when the pass was open there was little point in hunting here, to many travelers scaring of the game. But because of the altitude the white pass closed early every autumn and opened late every spring. The pass was probably already closed. Helgen and the land around it was covered in a thick layer of frost already and the pass was even further up.
Arcturus had approached Helgen hoping to sell some pelts a few days ago but had decided against it when he realised that because of the recent civil war the imperial garrison in the village had been increased massively. Even now there were almost an entire legion camped on the opposite side of the village from where Arcturus had camped. He cared little for the civil war, the rebels, these Stormcloaks hated him because he was from Cyrodiil the imperial capital province, meanwhile he had his own reasons for wanting to stay away from imperial forces. He had left Cyrodiil for a reason and though he doubted anyone in the legion would know him it was better not to risk it.
He sighed. Well he must have dream the roar after all. There was nothing out here except the now frozen over cinders from his campfire. For a moment he wished he had not been traveling alone, if he had had company then someone would have kept a watch on the fire and it would still be burning. But why wish for what was not the case. He reached into the tent again for his bow and arrows. No point in going back to sleep now, he might as well check the traps he had set the night before, at least if he kept moving he'd be warm.

It took him several hours to do so, and he had little luck, he had found a rabbit in one of the traps but that was it, he was returning to his camp, half climbing down the mountain side of one of the mountains that made up Skyrim's southern border, as he heard the sound again this time it was not in a dream. He had been focused on his footing and looked up startled. There is was,a  roar unlike anything he had ever heard before, a bestial roar yet it seemed to carry words in some harsh language in it. And a sound he had heard even earlier but dismissed as gusts of wind, but no he realized was the sound of the beating of massive wings. As soon as he looked up he saw it. It was perched on top of the imperial tower i Helgen. And there was no doubt what it was. A dragon.Arcturus just stared, he had hunted every kind of creature there was and even done some moonlighting as a treasure hunter, delving deep into the ancient nord tombs of the country, but the being before him radiated power and terror in a way he had never experienced before. He was miles away from it, and yet as it roared as it attacked Helgen he left like just turning around and fleeing. Finally he got his mind together and realized that where he stood on the mountain side was totally exposed. If the dragon gave up on Helgen and came this way he was a mouse caught before an eagle. His only hope that he was to small a prey for it to bother with. He looked around himself and saw a rocky outcrop a couple of hundred yards away, he climbed over there and hid. He pulled his hid up and sat motionless. Some large animals had a hard time registering things that did not move. He sat there for what felt like hours, hearing the roaring of the dragon and the sound of battle as the imperial legion fought a dragon. Then the roaring stopped and the beating of wings grew louder and louder, he saw how everything turned dark and realized that the massive creature just passed above him. But apparently it was either not interested in him or didn't see him because then the beating faded away in the distance.
He waited a while longer and then looked up. Helgen was on fire. every building in the entire village seemed to be burning. Over half thousand people had made the town it's home. Most of an imperial legion had been defending it. Over fifteen hundred people might have perished here today. He shook his head, he had not been born when the great war had been fought but now he realized what it must have been like. He started climbing down the mountain again, when he approached his camp the sun was already on it's way down, he had not eaten anything except  a few snow berries he had found while checking the traps all day, his little morning excursion had turned into an all day affair. As he approached his camp he heard voices. He covered low and started sneaking towards them. They were coming from his camp. he approached it unseen and saw three Stormcloaks with two unarmed legion members in captivity, the legionaries were not bound but one of the Stormcloaks were aiming a bow at them. the other two were ransacking Arcturus' camp, they had found his food, thrown most of his carefully maintained furs out on the cold ground.
Arcturus put his bow down on the ground, planted a few arrows in the ground and stood. He did not want to show the Stormcloaks that he had it.
"Can I help you with Something, Stormcloaks!" He called to them. Startled they span aroudn to face him. The one with the bow had taken his arrow of the prisoners but as they made a move one of the others  Held a sword towards them and mumbled something and they decided not to try anything.
"What is this?" the third one tolerantly a leader, called "Another imperial? A spy perhaps?"
"I'm no spy I am a hunter and those are my things you are digging through"
"An imperial hunter in Skyrim? Well so not a spy a poacher and a thief" The leader called back "These beasts were stolen from the people of Skyrim and as Skyrim's rightful defenders we are taking them back"
"In that case we're going to have a problem" Acruturus said.
"Not really, imperial spy or imperial thief makes little difference to us, you should not be in Skyrim and you'll pay the price" The officer said and drew his sword.
"Well that changes things" Arcturus remarked.
"How so?"
"Well I was going to let you off with a warning but if you intend to kill me I guess I'll have to kill you first"
"Good luck" the officer commanded and then turned to his friend with the bow. "Shoot him" The Stormcloak drew up at the same time Arcturus ducked down and to the side heard the bowman's arrow fly where he had stood  a moment before, scooped his own bow from ground and drew one of the arrows from the ground, in one smooth motion he turned and drew it and sent the arrow flying into the face of the Stormcloak archer who was still trying to draw his second arrow. He was dead before he hit the ground. The two stormcloaks stared but before they could react one of the imperial soldiers went for the sword of the man standing next to him. The other one turned only for the other imperial soldier to life his hand and send a fireball soaring into his face. He screamed as his clothes caught fire, the imperial who had cast the spell took the sword of the dead archer and thrust it into the back of the last struggling Stormcloak, before turning and finishing of the one he had previously set on fire.
Acturus looked at how causally this imperial had just ended the lives of two men, himself he was still trying very much not to look at the man whom he had himself killed. Arcturus was an excellent archer he had killed loads of animals in his days, he had even killed humans before, in the wilds of Skyrim one needed to know how to take care of oneself. It didn't mean he liked it. He scooped up the last of his arrows and returned them to the quiver, and then headed down the hill to his camp. The imperial who had cast the spell, taller than the other and from the style of his armour some kind of officer, also Arcturus realized an Altmer, high elf, now stood bent over his friend who was sitting down in the snow.
"No no, don't worry legate, I am fine, just  abut bruised is all"
"Are you certain? Well then" The officer stood and faced Arcturus. "I believe we owe you our lives archer, you have out gratitude" He said
"Coin would be better" Arcturus replied with a grin "It's hard to spend gratitude"
"Soon, I fear, it's not going to be very easy to spend coin either in Skyrim" the Altmer replied. "You may be better of taking my gratitude. I am imperial legate Fasendil" he introduced himself. He made a motion towards his friend "This is Hadvar of Riverwood" Hadvar was a nord shorter than Fasendil and with dark blonde hair.
"I'm Actius  Arcturus" Acturus replied, hesitantly. He didn't think anyone would actually know his name but to his shock Fasendil blinked as if he had recognized the name. But then the look was gone and he just nodded.
"An imperial traveling alone in Skyrim, you live a dangerous life these days Arcturus" He commented.
"More dangerous than an Altmer member of the imperial legion?" Acturus asked. Fasendil smiled thinly.
"Perhaps not" He mused. "I hate to ask this of you since you have already saved our lives but those lives will not really be safe unless I do, we require your hospitality for this night, food, the use of your fire and perhaps a few of your pelts for bedding?" Acturus opened his mouth but the legate cut him short "You aksed for coin earlier, the imperial legion will obviously compensate you richly for it"
"In that case welcome to my camp" Acrturus said with a smile. He would have preferred the imperials not to be here but the legate was apparently a very dangerous man and resisting might not really be an option. He looked over to the man called Hadvar. He had been busy collecting the corpses of the Stormcloaks. He looked to Fasendil.
"We should bury them" He said.
"We should also bury the twelve men that are dead on the other side of that hill" Fasendil nodded in the direction of Helgen "That's where they captured us" he added to Arcturus, then turned back to Hadvar "Or the several hundred men who must laying dead on the streets of Helgen, but I am afraid we simply don't have time. We need to take care of the living, the dead will have to wait." Hadvar nodded, Arcturus got a fire going and retrieved the rabbit he had caught this morning. As is cooked, Hadvar looked at it.
"I will eat anything right now because I amstarving but I swear, the smell of roasted meat will never smell right to me again." He said. "Damn Ulfric, damn him to Oblivion"
"Ulfric? Ulric Stormcloak? The jarl of Windhelm? What does he have to do with this?"
"We had captured him,  were going to sentence him to death for murdering the high king, I take it you heard about that part?" Arcturus nodded so Hadvar continued "He was right on his way up to the chopping block when the dragon attacked. and in the chaos Ulfric disappeared" He shook his head "I guess it's to much to hope for that he's in the belly of the beast"
"That why there was a full legion outside Helgen? Because of Ulfric?" Arcturus asked.
"Not a full legion" Fasendil said bitterly, "the full legion" eight out of every ten men that the legion has in Skyrim, and now they are all dea, another one out of ten fell in battle to capture him, the legion has only one tenth of the strength it's supposed to have in Skyrim and it's unlikely we'll be able to bring more men or resources through the white pass before it's closed for the winter." Fasendil looked into the fire bitterly "In one fell swoop Ulfric has pretty much won the war already. If he can take Falktreth hold and hold the White pass and keep holding the Rift pass when spring comes the full might of the imperial legion will not be enough to take them from him. Meanwhile we have almost no men, almost no resources and the only pass we control to cyrodiil is frozen over to thirds of the year so we have no way of bringing more of either in." Fasendil spat. "Why didn't I just attack Riften when I had the chance, it's not like I would have lost more men there than I did today and at least might have been able to reinforce now"
"You can't blame yourself legate, no one could have known that a a dragon would show up at Helgen" Hadvar commanted.
"So most of the legion are dead?" Arcturus asked. "How about the townsfolk?"
"The legion gave their lives so that as many of them as possible would be able to flee the city. I have no idea how any actually got out" Hadvar answered.
"Did you see if the damn thing at least managed to eat Elenwen?"
"Sorry legate"
"Elenwen"
"She leads the Thalmor in Skyrim, ah but she probably fled along with all the civilians, wouldn't wan to shed her blood for humans now would she? Damn elves" Fasendil muttered.
"You're an elf" Acturus pointed out.
"Yes I am, and the Thalmor gives us all a bad name" Neither Hadvar nor Arcturus commented on that. The three of them ate their rabbit in silence.
"Someone should warn Riverwood of this dragon" Hadvar commented. Riverwood was the closest town now that Helgen was destroyed, it lay at the bottom of a valley where overflow from lake Inalta formed the rapid White River heading down towards the city of Whiterun, capital of Whiterun hold, one of the nine holds of Skyrim "They may be attacked next"
"Not sure how much good a warning will do them, that thing tore through almost a thousand men like they were wet parchment." Observed but then he shook his head. "No you are right they need to know, but I must return to the Rift, with the loss of our men We'll be much harder pressed there. If the Stormcloaks push west into Falkreth"
"Not though these mountains" Arcturus interrupted him "If a significant military force could be brought through these mountains then you could have brought reinforcements from the empire, it is specifically because the high passes, the white pass from Cyrodiil and Haemar's Pass between Falkreth and the rift, are hard to travel with significant amounts of men that you are vulnerable, but it also protects you from your enemies doing the same thing"
"The Haemar's pass is lower than the white pass though, but maybe you're right. But if Whiterun hold sides with Ulfric..." This time Hadvar interrupted him.
"Not going to happen Balgruuf and Ulfric hate each other"
"I admire your sense of loyalty to your jarl, Hadvar, but Jarl Balgruuf is a pragmatic and if he sees the chance to end the war quickly he might take it even if it means siding with Ulfric" Hadvar looked a little less certain but kept shaking his head, though he did not contradict the legate this time. "As I was saying I need to return to the Rift" He turned to Arcturus "May the empire enlist your services again Arcturus? With compensation obviously"
"Depends on what services you want rendered" Arcturus replied not looking at him, instead staring into the fire. "I am not fighting in your war.
"I want you to help Hadvar to get to Riverwood, he took quite a beating when we were captured"
"I cna make that trek on my own legate!" Hadvar protested. "I grew up these parts, I know the land well there's no risk, also any imperial stragglers will be going west. You on the other hand will be going east to the Rift, where the stormcloak survivors will be going, and you don't know the land nearly as well as I do" Legate Fasendil opened his mouth to object.
"Hadvar is right legate" Arcturus interrupted him "There is no way that you're going to be able to reach the Rift though Haemar's pass, not if Ulfric is going in that direction., but there are other paths to the east. I have been living up here six years, I know these mountains pretty well" Arcturus stopped to consider, why had he just offered to get involved? Maybe he was simply tired of travelling alone. maybe he was angry at the Stormcloaks for raiding his camp, maybe it was the foul bigotry that Ulfric's followers were spouting that left him with bitter taste in his mouth every time he heard it. "If you want to have any chance of reaching the rift then you need my help" Fasendil looked at him then turned to Hadvar.
"Are you certain you can manage on your own Hadvar?"
"I grew up in Riverwood don't worry"
"Very well, I'll send someone to look for you once I reach my men"
"As you say legate" Hadvar replied.
There was little speaking for the rest of the evening. It was fortunate they needed someone to watch the fire at all times because while two people could squeeze into Arcturus' tent all three of them would not have managed to do so. Instead they took turns on the watch. Faendil took the first watch and was the  to wake Hadvar who would wake Arcturus. Early in the morning however it was Fasendil who woke Arcturus, he silently commented that he wanted Hadvar who was wounded to sleep thus had taken his watch too. Arcuturus took over the watch and sat there thinking, the legate was hardly a pleasant person. He was cold, bitter and stiff, but he seemed to care about the man under his command.


When they woke next morning they quickly paked up the camp, aside from some food Hadvar took very little. if all went well he'd be down in the valleys before night hit and be much better of.
"There's a semi permanent hunter's camp down at the guardian stones stones, right on the eastern end of lake Inalata, the road pass there and I should be able to stay with them for the night, and reach Riverwood tomorrow. I know the hunters these parts, it should be no problem" He had stowed his imperial armour into his pack and cowered p the imperial insignia on his sword with some leather scraps he had borrowed from Arcturus. Not that it was really needed, last time Arcturus had been down in the camp he referred to the camp leader had been a Redguard, one of the dark skinned people from the desert lands of Hammerfell to the west, and he had been feeling very anti Stormcloak at that time. Though as Hadvar had pointed out some of the nord hunters in the camp may feel otherwise.
They said their goodbyes then Fasendil and Arcturus headed east on a small trial up the same mountain side where Acturus had sat crouching from the dragon the other day. The first two days day of marching was largely uneventful, but as they camped the second night there was a glow from above one of the nearby hills.
"What is that?" Fasendil asked Arcturus, who threw a look that way to look at what he was referring to.
"Oh probably the torches on Neugard" he said dimisevly.
"Neugard?" Fasendil asked.
"Fort Neugard, though as I understand it fort Altgard was destroyed when Tiber Septim united Tamriel so it's not particularly new"
"There's a fort up here? An imperial fort"
"Not exactly, there are the ruins of an imperial fort up here. it's been the base of bandits for decades if not centuries, they use it as a strong point from where to raid either the white pass trade route or the Haemar's pass one. They're hard to dig out you see since you can't marshal big forces up here in the mountains so a prolonged siege is basically impossible."
"Why did no one tell me it was here?"
"My guess is that the people who were stationed her before the civil war began just assumed you knew those who weren't didn't know either and so couldn't have told you. It lost most strategic importance when the keep at Helgen was built." Arcturus shrugged.
"But the keep at Helgen is no more, I'd like to take a look at that fort in the morning"
"Not much to see really, a fairly standard imperial fort, one of the walls are a bit in disrepair, filled with bandits"
"Have you ever traded with them?"
"With bandits? No way, now don't get me wrong I don't mind a skilled burglar but bandits are murderers rapists... the lowest of the low"
"So you've never been inside"
"Well actually they did raid my camp once when I was out, took my food so I kind of had to sneak in and take it back, with some interest obviously" Arcturus stopped, he had just realized he had said a lot more than he had intended too. Exactly what had he said about burglars.
"You sneaked in?" Fasendil gave him a perceptive look.
"Uh yeah I'm fairly good at sneaking" Arcturs found himself squirming slightly.
"Could you do it again?" the legate asked with a calculating look.
"Yeah I guess, but why? I would rather stay away from the place, those people are dangerous" The legate only nodded.

The next day they went up over the hill and had a look at the fort.
"How long has it been ruined" Fasendil asked Arcturus, who just shrugged.
"What am I your local historian, a century perhaps how old is... was the imperial keep at Helgen?" Arcturus asked rhetorically
"Two hundred years, one hundred and eighty three years to be exact, it was the first outpost built in Skyrim by the Mede dynasty when they took power in the empire in 4E 17" Fasnedil corrected him absent-mindedly. Arcturus blinked in surprise, and turned to look at him "No way that fort has been abandoned for that long though. I'd say at most fifty years, the far wall seems to have collapsed, but otherwise it's in excellent shape, and wit Helgen gone this is becomes the most important strategic locations in these mountains"
"One problem though Legate, you have no way of taking it, even if I sneaked in again I couldn't take out almost eighty bandits on my own. And as I said yesterday you can't siege a fort in a location like this"
"What oh sorry, Arcturus, I was just thinking out loud. We should head on to the rift" Arturus gave him a look with narrowed eyes, he was not at all certain that the legate hard really given up the idea to take this fort.
"We should head north from here to the road, we might not be able to use it, but we might as well try it
 before we try something more radical."
When they about an hour later stood on an outcrop overlooking the road they could clearly see there was no way whatsoever that they could use the road. Before them sat a fairly large encampment of Stormcloaks. right on the only road leading to Haemar's pass. 
"So how about those other passes?" the legate asked Arcturus.
"There are no other passes, Haemar's is the only one."
"But you said..."
"Other paths not other passes" Arcturus said slooping. He drew a deep breath. "There are tunnels, under the mountain, built by the ancient nords, most of mountains of Skyrim are riddled with them, well the ones in there mountains are connected so one can pass from one side to the other. For an example there is the Skybound watches to the north on the throat of the world, but the ones we''ll have to use are in the mountains to the east. He crouched and grabbed a stick and drew in the sand before him here's for Neugard, behind it is an entrance to the tunnel system, in the ruins of fort Altgard here in Haemar's pass in an exit, a cave called haemar's shame, and here on the far side of the mountains is a large ruin called Arcwind point" He looked up at the legate "Altgard is filled with ghosts, those who fell when Tiber Septim took the fort, Haemar's shame is filled with vampires, and and Arcwind Point is swarming with draugr. It would probably be safest to pass from Altgard to Haemar's shame, the vampires in Haemar's shame may even let us, they sometimes allow smugglers to use their tunnels in exchange for a tribute of blood, if not vampires are cowardly creatures and usually scurry away if you put up to much a fight, they want to live forever and dying kind of screws that up for them, meanwhile the draugr at arcwind point are a lot more dangerous, they can't be bargained with, nor do they retreat in fear. The upside of Arcwind Point is that it leads us all the way to the rift, while if we're unlucky the Haemar's shame exist will lead to us getting trapped in the pass by the Stormcloaks."
"So which one do we pick?"
"That is up to you, legate, I am only here as hired help"
"Haemar's shame it is then, if we meet the stormcloaks in the pass we'll just have to head for Arcwind Point from there"

They once again sneaked past fort Neugard, this time on the northern side. Arcturus found the legate standing looking down at the collapsed wall on the north side and muttering to himself, but when he gave him a quearing look he just motioned to Arcturus to keep showing the way.
It was getting dark when they finally approached the ruins of old fort Altgard. When they got closer the legate looked with surprise at the ruins.
"This wasn't built by the nords" he commented. Arturus stopped and looked at him again. "This architecture is clearly elven"
"Then maybe it's not Altgard for old but for Altmer" Arcturus said shrugging. "It makes sense why would Tiber Septim attack and burn down a nord outpost? Then again it still connects to the old nord tunnels further in, maybe the elves built their fort on top of older nord ruins? At any rate we should camp here and enter the ruins when the sun is up tomorrow. These ruins are supposedly haunted much less risk or running into anything nasty in sunlight."
"It's never sunlight where we are going" The legate pointed out.
"We have to face darkness eventually so why not walk in the sun as long as possible?"
"Very well, we camp here and continue at first light"

When Arcturus awoke the next morning he found that the legate was missing, he was just about to start tracking him down when he returned from the direction of the ruins.
"Morning legate, these are not places to go on unannounced walks"
"Sorry Acturus, I wanted to look at the ruins before we headed on, it's not Altmer, I have no idea what it might be, some sort of long forgotten type of mer, the elves who fought Ysgramor perhaps" Arcturus drew a deep breath and rose, he disliked when the legate became like this.
"What is on your mind legate, starting to agree with the Thalmor that this land rightfully belongs to the elves?" Fasendil span around, his eyes blazing.
"Never compare me to the Thalmor" He sneered. Then his face softened "On the contrary this ruin is a reminder of how much has been lost because of the pointless struggles between man and mer"
"You really hate the Thalmor don't you?" Arcturus asked him.
"More than you can imagine, perhaps more than even the Stormcloaks do." He mused, Arcturus opened his mount but the legate cut him of "One day I may even tell you why"
Arcturus nodded to accept the rebuke. Fasendil then shrugged.
"Let us pack up, I believe we have a date to keep with a place that is dark damp and cold."