The Road to Winterhold (Final version…I think)

It was late Frostfall.

This season had been colder than usual. The harvest was over and a crisp blanket of white covered the ground, creating a new landscape which adorned the roadside as they passed. The path in front of them was dressed in faint footprints left by earlier travelers, now fading in the newly fallen snow.

Her breath disappeared into the air in front of her. She pulled her cloak tighter, burying the cold deep in her chest as the carriage moved slowly down the road.

A’kira dreamed of home.

Whiterun.

She could almost feel the sun warming her fur as her memory drifted to a sunny day at Breezehome.

Her mother had fresh line-caught fish cooking over the fire for lunch, a bowl of mixed fruits and vegetables on the table behind her. Juniper berries were A’kira’s favorite. The berries didn’t grow in this region, so they would have to buy the berries from the trading caravan just outside the city walls. A’kira was happy to be around other khajiits.

This was the day A’kira’s father, J’Zargo left to become a student at the College of Winterhold. Two years had passed and in that two years, so much had happened in Skyrim. J’Zargo helped the dragonborn, Viktor Ravenscar, defend the city of Whiterun from the evil magic unleashed by the Eye of Magnus. Winterhold was almost destroyed but the khajiit’s brave efforts paid off and Jarl Balgruuf awarded Breezehome, the house inside the walls of Whiterun, for his service to the city.

Tristane Blackfyre is the current Arch-Mage of the college and friend to both J’Zargo and Viktor Ravenscar. He also rewarded J’Zargo for his courage in the face of evil and for being the example of leadership and integrity as a student at the college. He made J’Zargo his apprentice and next in line to become Arch-Mage. His efforts afforded his family a respect not shown to most khajiits.

A’kira was so proud of her father’s success and longed to follow in his footsteps. It was her dream ever since she was a cub to follow his example and join the College of Winterhold.

J’Zargo had become a more prominent destruction mage in his role at the college. She remembers him teaching her the basic destruction spells and his patience in their practices. She, too, grew over the years and her own abilities had flourished. Her hopes of becoming a student at the college of Winterhold were finally realized in the recent autumn months, and today she arrives after making the trek to take her place and learn from the most respected mages in Skyrim.

When she received the letter from the courier, she almost cried. There was one spot left at the college for a new student. Tristane accepted A’kira as the newest destruction mage.

A bump in the road shook the carriage and brought A’kira back to the present, and she sighed as the road came into focus, snow falling lightly.

The carriage stopped at the edge of the snowy town. Bjorlam turned around and said, “We’ve arrived at Winterhold. The college is just up the road, through town.”

A’kira thanked him as she handed him a pouch full of coins.

She threw her knapsack onto her shoulder and pulled her hood further over her head, walking towards the giant stone structure outlined in the snow flurries ahead of her. She was so excited. Every nerve was on end and she could feel a tingle underneath her fur, rippling through her body.

“I finally get to see the College of Winterhold, and learn from masters of arcane magic” She thought to herself, “And spend time with father!”

She had not seen her father for two years while he worked hard learning and practicing the most complex destruction spells, becoming a powerful and well-respected mage. To study and learn from the mages of Winterhold’s famed college was special to her, but to also be reunited back with her father made it even more so. This was like having a dream and she wasn’t sure if it was real yet.

The cold didn’t even bother her at this point. She quickened her pace and was almost running through town. The snow was heavy and everyone was inside their homes. She could see smoke billowing up into the sky from fireplaces, a sign of warm comfort inside. The street was empty except for a few chickens wandering and the hold guards patrolling. As she reached the stone bridge that would take her the rest of the way to the college, a familiar voice surprised her from ahead.

“A’kira, my daughter.” J’Zargo said as he reached out his arms to embrace her.

He received word of her arrival today and has been waiting in the wind and snow to see his daughter.

She was even more excited. “Father!”

She ran up to J’Zargo and threw her arms around him. “Father, how I’ve missed you!”

After a long-overdue hug and kiss on his daughter’s cheek, J’Zargo took her knapsack and said “Welcome to the College of Winterhold, my dear.” He put his arm around her to block the wind as they walked up to the courtyard. “I’m so proud of you.”

As the college came into view, A’kira gasped and stared in awe. This was the first time she’d ever seen it. The stories she heard growing up didn’t do justice to the college. She could hardly contain her excitement. J’Zargo paused and said “I can still remember the day I arrived and saw the college for the first time.”

A’kira just smiled.

J’Zargo said “Come, dear. I will introduce you to my friend, the Arch-Mage, and show you your living quarters in the Hall of Attainment. In the morning you will meet your instructors and begin classes but tonight is our time together, we have a lot to catch up.” He kissed her cheek again as they walked towards the door ahead. “I’m glad you are here.”

A’kira stood for a moment and felt the cold wind on her fur. She was starting her own adventure.

DARKNESS RISING (BOOK 2) CH.1

CHAPTER ONE: WHEN SHADOWS FALL
Morning in the Pale, one of Skyrim’s oldest holds. The snowy region is covered in trees and jagged mountains that erupt from the ground, majestic and treacherous. Amidst this winter-tinged beauty, in the southern area of the hold, stands Heljarchen Hall, home to Viktor Ravenscar.
Inside the house, walls are adorned with weapons collected over the years along with numerous trophies of opponents he’s defeated in battle. A cave bear from the wild forests of Falkreath to draugr from the bowels of some ancient tomb, his victories are well-documented within the rooms of this house.
The fireplace flickers, crackling its broken melody, evicting the chill in the air that has been residing overnight in the main hall. The smoky, earthy scent of wood burning in the fireplace is immediately comforting as the warmth begins to take over. You can smell the fresh picked lavender on the table. Lydia, Viktor’s steward in the house, walks in and adds a few wedges of chopped wood, stoking the fire as part of her morning duties. She tends to the needs of the house and assists the housecarl, Gregor, in protecting it.
Outside deer and elk are scattered across the landscape, heads down, feeding on the crisp, cold grass. The sun is breaking over the mountains in the distance, throwing jagged shards of light through the tree tops. Viktor is leaning against the railing of the wraparound porch above the west wing of his massive home. The wind on his face is cool and sharp. He’s trying to collect his thoughts as he looks out across the horizon.
Viktor has only been home a few days after returning from Solstheim and the courier came late last night with a letter that delivered unexpected news. This morning he’s trying to make sense of everything and preparing himself for what lies ahead. The letter is from a friend, Brynjolf. He informs Viktor that their friend, Karliah, is dead and asks to meet at Nightingale Hall, just outside of Riften. Viktor reads the letter again and as a gust of wind blows snow from the roof and into the air, breaking his concentration, he breathes a deep sigh and goes back inside the house to prepare for his journey.
As Viktor pulls on his guild master armor, he recalls when he first met Karliah and how she saved his life, and he’s disheartened that he couldn’t do the same for her.
…Brynjolf had asked him to join the Thieves Guild, during which they uncovered proof that their guild master, Mercer Frey, had betrayed them and stolen everything they had. It was later revealed that Mercer had murdered the previous guild master and blamed Karliah, having her cast out of the guild and hunted for the next twenty-five years. When Mercer attempted to kill Viktor, it was Karliah that intervened, saving Viktor’s life. After proving her innocence, she enlisted the help of Brynjolf and Viktor to take down the schismatic Mercer Frey for his betrayal and avenge the death of her former lover, the guild’s previous guild master, Gallus.
This is when she revealed that she , Mercer, and Gallus were Nightingales. The Nightingales are a secret inner circle of the Thieves Guild. They are sentinels of Nocturnal and protectors of the guild and the Twilight Sepulcher, Nocturnal’s sanctuary. With Mercer’s betrayal and Gallus dead, the trinity had been broken and needed to be restored. As the last remaining Nightingale, Karliah inducted Brynjolf and Viktor as Nightingales. Brynjolf made Viktor the new guild master, replacing Mercer Frey as leader of the Thieves Guild. As the years passed, the guild grew stronger and richer. As a result of Viktor’s efforts, they had once again become a dominant force in the shadows of Skyrim’s cities.
With his armor in place, Viktor fastened his dagger sheath and pulled a daedric dagger from the display case on the cabinet next to him. He had named it Dragonsvein. When struck, it sets fire to the surface of whatever it cuts into. The dagger was a reward presented to the dragonborn by Jarl Balgruuf the greater in appreciation of Viktor saving the city of Whiterun from a dragon attack.
Downstairs in the armory wing off the main hall, a worn map of Skyrim is spread out on a table. Viktor rolls it up and packs it into a knapsack along with a few healing potions and poisons. He placed some extra lockpicks in his armor pouches and filled his quiver with daedric arrows. He removes a daedric bow from the weapon rack and looks it over for a brief moment, imbued with admiration. Shivershock, named for the enchantment that powers it. When the arrow makes contact with an opponent, it sends a bolt of electricity through them and then freezes them in a state of paralysis for a few seconds. It has given Viktor the upperhand in a fight on several occasions.
Finally, he walks to the large display case on the other side of the room. He opens the lid and removes his favorite sword and straps the weapon at his side. The handle of the sword is made from Alduin’s bone and has one of his teeth for the pommel. He forged it after he defeated the world-eater. This sword, like his dagger, Dragonsvein, is enchanted with the most unforgiving element, fire, making it a very powerful weapon.
Once his weapons were equipped and he had stocked some supplies, Viktor mounts his horse, Shadowmere, and rides in the direction of Riften.

Winter’s End (Book 1)

CHAPTER ONE: RAVENSCAR

Clutching his amulet of Talos, Viktor inhaled deeply and then exhaled a visceral shout, sending waves of energy rippling forward in a thundering thu’um that echoed throughout sky and land.

“Fus Ro Dah!”

The force thrust the copper-scaled elder dragon backwards and over the edge of the mountain. Viktor staggered as the ground quaked beneath him. Suddenly as he caught his breath, a large shadow rose up and over him, drowning out the scenery around him. The dragon had flown up and was now facing Viktor, suspended in air, wings spread outwards across the sky, preparing to strike. Before he could blink, the flames came roaring out of the dragon’s mouth with unbridled fury.

Viktor’s reflexes were sharp and quick as he dodged the blast, he ran forward to face the creature head on. As the elder dragon prepared for another attack and jerked forward, Viktor rolled to the right, drawing his sword. He caught his footing on the mountain rocks and leapt towards the dragon, swinging his weapon through the air with both hands.

CRACK!!

The sword struck the side of the dragon’s face with such force that scales were broken and the sword sunk into the meat, burning the wound with its flames. It forced the dragon to land and regroup, giving Viktor enough time to attack.

Gripping his sword and running as fast as he could towards the elder dragon, Viktor looks to see his horse, Shadowmere, has joined the battle. Shadowmere is standing upright on his back feet using his front feet to punch and kick the dragon, keeping it distracted. It was enough to give Viktor the advantage he needed to land a serious blow. Again he swung at the dragon, making contact, and striking several more times before noticing the elder dragon’s health was waning.

The dragon was becoming more desperate now, biting and clawing at the two warriors. Viktor quickly jumped up on the elder dragon’s neck and stood up, raising his sword high above him and bringing it down, letting out a ferocious battle cry to match that of his opponent, thrusting the blade deep inside the dragon’s head. The monster’s blood sprayed up onto Viktor’s face and chest as he pulled the sword out and brought it down one last time.

The dragon came crashing down with a ground-shaking thud, its body left motionless. Viktor was slung off and onto the ground in front of Shadowmere. He stood up and walked towards the dragon, watching its scales start crackling and burning, embers glowing all over its body, as if covered in transparent flames which quickly consumed the dragon. Viktor watched the skin peel away until there was only a skeleton left. As it had many times before, the icy blue lights started swirling around the dragon, flowing over the air, outwards meeting Viktor as he absorbed the dragon’s soul into his own. His eyes glowed with the same icy blue light burning brighter until the swirling lights around him had receded and the air fell silent.

Viktor felt renewed, the dragon’s energy coursing through his veins. He pulled a few bones and scales from the dragon’s skeleton to use in weapon crafting and carried them over to where Shadowmere was resting under a tree. He wrapped up the bones and scales and stowed them in a saddlebag with the hides he’s collected over the past few days of hunting. After wiping the blood off of his face and armer with a cloth, he walked around and opened the other saddlebag, pulling out a green apple. The green ones were Shadowmere’s favorite. He fed his horse the sweet fruit and gave him a pat on the neck.

“Brave Shadowmere. That dragon never had a chance, my friend.” Viktor said, running a hand through his beard.

They have been through many battles together. Each has been wounded and suffered, becoming more confident with each victory and more skilled in combat, with every experience yielding invaluable lessons. The two had become so close over the years that each would die defending the other.

The past few days they have been out hunting for meat and pelts, stopping briefly in Dawnstar to pick up a few supplies. They were making their way back home when the elder dragon swooped down from the mountains and attacked. Viktor pulled his sword from the dragon’s skull and slid it into the sheath at his side. He mounted Shadowmere and took the road south, down through the mountain and back home to Heljarchen Hall.