I’m Havok’Ra and so can you.
By Justin Stowers @thelast9breaker on twitter.com
PART 2:THE DRAGON RISES
The bottle is tilted upside down almost completely vertical. The normally opaque dark green bottle is illuminated and casts a bright green spectre onto the pale dusty rug below. The muddy green fluid inside gives way to empty space as bubbles of air rise and the potion pours out. Dark leathery fingers attached to a bright orange gauntlet hold the bottle in place suspended in the air above the gaping green maw of Havok’Ra.
Bright yellow eyes open as the last drop hits his tongue. Havok wipes his mouth with a slow brush of his gauntlet and places the cork into the now empty bottle of Skooma. Havok walks through the entrance of Dragonsreach with a confident and slow strut as his two female companions follow behind him. He wonders if he is the first argonian to pass through these doors as he walks up the stairs and passes an old nord woman sweeping the floor. Her dust covered beige clothes blend in with the walls of her self imposed prison called “honest work”.
As Havok enters the main hall he overhears a heated discussion between an Imperial legate and the resident steward Preventus. The Legate is clad in heavy armor of the shiniest bright reflective steel the Empire could buy. His long blonde hair and handlebar mustache let you know he is a man of power, but his red scarf lets you know he is a man of class. The steward is a meek of man of small stature and a even meeker mustache. The legate dominates the conversation with a chest poking point after point about Imperial duty and the greater good.
The steward holds stamped documents in one hand and a quill in the other as he argues with the Imperial with a face that says my life doesn’t matter. Havok watches people from all over Dragonsreach congregate at a table on each side of the massive fire pit in the middle of the Hall. They sit at tables waiting to be served the first course of the evening. Havok continues past them as he makes his way to the office of the court wizard Farengar. Farengar stands slumped over his enchanting table cursing at a dagger that emits sparks.
Havok reaches into his backpack and pulls out the Dragonstone. The sound of a loud thump fills the office as Havok slams down the Dragonstone onto the table. The wizard jumps startled. “One dragonstone as requested, wizard.” Havok says as he opens a small bottle of ale and begins drinking it. “Amazing you survived…I mean of course you did what Law-Giver said, you were the best.” Farengar responds with joy. “This will be invaluable to my research into the rising dragon menace!” Farengar exclaims.
“Then you won’t have a problem paying me the 1000 gold I requested when I took the job then won’t you wizard?” Havok says before he drinks the last of the bottle and opens his backpack. “No of course not friend.” The wizard says before walking into a backroom. Havok sits his bottle on the desk and grabs a few books and potions sitting out and quickly tosses them into his backpack. The wizard returns from the backroom with a small sack and hands it to Havok. “Four diamonds worth 1000 gold when I last acquired them during a trade for spell scrolls from a college mage.” The wizard says with confidence.
Havok examines them closely and even licks one of the diamonds. “Everything seems to be in order. Have your people let me know next time you need something acquired. No reason to involve the jarl in every matter of your court, no?” Havok says as he examines the diamonds. “Yes, as long as our couriers can find you.” The wizard says as he shakes hand with Havok. “Let’s go ladies.” Havok says as he turns to Iona and Zora who were reading the Skyrim map on the wall.
“If Balgruuf sides with the Stormcloaks we will have no choice but to overthrow him damnit!” The Legate yells at the steward. The steward looks horrified. “We will go hold to hold uniting Skyrim.”
The Legate says as he pounds his fist into his hand. Havok walks closer to them as he gets an idea. “ARGONIAN!” the wizard yells out from his office. Havok turns around and stumbles and falls into the steward sending his papers everywhere. “COME PICK UP YOUR BOTTLE!” he shouts. “Terribly sorry.” Havok says as he scurries back to the wizard and grabs his bottle off the desk.
Havok picks up his pace as he walks out of Dragonsreach. Havok and his followers exit Dragonsreach and begin descending the steps that descends down over a waterway. The imposing Masser with its ever present Secunda hang high in the sky gazing down upon all of Tamriel casting silent judgment and bleak light to illuminate the cold nights of Skyrim.
Stone faced Nord guards patrol the silent city torch in hand,ever vigilant for the occasional thief or drunken brawl. As we walk through the cloud district a low grumble fills the air. A gloved hand touches my shoulder, I look back and see Zora with her left hand over her stomach. “Mi lord we should stop by the inn and get supper. The pheasant here is to die for mi lord.” She exclaims with a smile. “You know….I believe I’m out of Ale. Yes let’s get supper.” I smile back at her with a toothy grin.
We make our way down the steps and enter the empty markets of the plains district. Four empty market stands surround a water well. A single guard stands half asleep leaning against Belethor’s Goods. The only sounds are of the Bannered Mare. The guard’s eyes follow me as I walk up to the Bannered Mare. As we walk up the steps to the Bannered Mare suddenly the door swings open. The warm yellow light of the inn blinds us as the door is opened. Two shapes appear as my vision clears and I see a large nord clad in rusty banded iron armor throw a drunk man out onto the ground.
“DON’T COME BACK SLUGBREATH” The old nord yells out as the mans body hits the ground with a lifeless thud. We step over his body as he sleeps on his stomach oblivious to the cold world around him. The nord in rusty armor stands with his arms folded and a scowl on his face as he holds the door open for Zora and Iona. He steps back inside as the door quickly shuts in my face. Before I can reach the door it is opened by Iona.
Together we walk inside. A single fire pit of large logs sits in the middle of the inn,filling the room with warmth and golden light. The old nord in rusty armor leans against a beam,arms folded as he observes the crowd his head clad in an iron helmet on a swivel. The inn is packed with the nightlife of Whiterun. Rich and poor alike fill the benches,stools and chairs scattered throughout the inn in a haphazard fashion. To my right a lone high elf woman sits with a leg of goat and an entire bottle of wine.
The inn is filled with the sounds of coughing, loud arguments, mugs and bottles slammed onto wooden tables in celebration. Long shadows extend in all directions from the fire. Zora waves at the woman at the bar who reciprocates the gesture with a smile. Zora leans in towards me “That is Hulda, she has run this inn for almost 30 years like her mother before her and her mother before her. My sister and I would always help gather cabbage for her in the summer. Please mi lord we must take time to talk and visit before we leave.” “Fine by me Zora as long as we leave for Solitude before morning.” I respond.
As we walk over to the bar we hear shouts and whistles aimed at us “HEY LIZARD!” “OH FRESH OFF THE EGG FARM IN BLACK MARSH ARE WE?” “LOOK AT THIS LIZARD GOT TWO NORD WOMEN WITH HIM! HEY SCALEBACK WHATS WRONG WITH STICKIN’ TO YOUR OWN KIND”. The inn is now filled with the sound of laughter and banging of steel mugs. We ignore them as we sit down at the bar. I sit at the stool at the end of the bar furthest from the door, Zora sits down next to me, and Iona next to her.
A bard in the corner plays his lute to a rowdy crowd of drunk nords. A redguard woman runs from table to table taking orders for food and drink. A fight breaks out in the far corner as two men tackle each other and roll on the floor trading blows. “DAMNIT YOU’RE RIPPIN MY BEST FUCKIN TUNIC!” the man on the ground shouts as he wraps his arm around the mans head and uses his other arm to punch him in the side. A tall redguard in hide armor and the old nord in rusty armor grab them and separate them before throwing them outside.
“COME SIT WITH US FOR A LITTLE WHILE!” shouts an off duty guard as he grabs the red guard woman from behind,wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her to him. While being pulled back her metal tray goes vertical and two bottles of mead drop to the ground and shatter one by one. “Damnit…” she mumbles to herself as she pushes off him and scurries back to the bar, metal tray in hand. A bald nord shares the corner of the bar with me he finishes his mug and slams it down onto the bar. He stands up, looks at me and nods before collapsing to the floor as he passes out.
I look around the room once more while Hulda argues with the redguard woman and tends to the other patrons of the inn. In a far dark corner I see a khajitt male with ear rings and a scar over his nose talking to an old breton maid I remember seeing in Dragonsreach. She slides a coin purse over to him nervously as her eyes dart about. “Not here.” he growls at her as he pushes the coin purse back to her. She follows him out the back exit.
Hulda leans forward leaning on the bar bringing her face close to Zora as she cleans a mug. “What’ll it be ‘bullseye’?” Zora gives a quiet giggle. “Pheasant breast and a mug of Honningbrew please.” Zora responds. “Coming right up dear, and what for you argonian?” “A bottle of black briar reserve and mudcrab stew.” I say without turning to face her while I continue observing the room. “What about you miss?” she says to Iona. Iona pauses, ”A bottle of Nord mead,cooked beef and baked potatoes.”says Iona.“That’ll be 40 gold for you two and 80 for the lizard.” she says as she stares at the back of my horned head. I reach into my front pouch and pull out a Flawless ruby and place it on the bar without looking. “This should cover it.” I respond softly. She nods and takes the ruby.
Hulda disappears into the back as a man leans in to Zora. “Ehh pheasant breast good choice, how about you and me get breast to breast.” He says as Zora ignores hims and continues looking forward. “No..I think I must decline surely one as handsome as you can find someone else more suiting…” Zora responds. The man grabs Zora’s arm to turn her toward him. Iona stands up with force sending her stool sliding behind her. She grabs the man’s shoulders turns him around clenching her fist and punching him in the stomach. The man groans and coughs before Iona throws him towards the door as his body hits the ground and tumbles along like a sack of potatoes before being stopped by a bench.
The old nord in rusty armor shouts at the redguard man, “GET HIM OUT OF HERE NOW!”. The redguard drags the man out of the inn. The old nord walks through the inn and stops in front of me.
“Cause trouble and I’m tossing you out of here onto your tail lizard.” He says with a scowl. As he walks away the redguard woman stops next to me and sits down next to me leaning in towards me. “Don’t let him bother you, Sinmir was born a brute and just got bigger.” She pauses to pour herself a mug of spiced wine.
“My name is Saadia if you need anything..” she taps my shoulder and I look back at her. “If you need anything just let me know argonian.” she says in between drinks of the wine. I nod and turn back to watch the drunk nords. “What’s your name argonian?” she asks. “Havok’Ra-Ashwood.” I reply. She finishes her mug of spiced wine with a smile. “I’ve heard of you Havok’Ra” She is interrupted as Hulda slams down my bottle of Black Briar reserve onto the bar. “Get back to work Saadia!” Hulda says as she places her meals down quickly. Saadia grabs two bottles of nord mead and heads back to the crowd.
I turn back around and open the bottle and begin gulping it down to quench my thirst. We enjoy our meals as the night goes on and the crowd gets drunker. I burp loudly as I turn around and continue drinking my second bottle of Black Briar Reserve. I watch as a nord couple share a bottle of Colovian brandy. A drunk nord in leather armor stumbles about the room. He slips where the bottles of mead where broken before and falls onto the woman and grabs her breasts as he falls. “NOBODY TOUCHES MY WIFE” The nord man stands up from the table and pulls out his steel mace gripping it with both hands and swings it full force into the mans chest sending him stumbling backwards and falling onto a table.
The table flips backwards sending nord mead onto off duty guards who stand up and attack the drunk nords sitting adjacent to them. Suddenly everyone in the inn is fighting. The bard escapes upstairs as the sounds of grunts,broken bones and shattered bottles fill the inn. Someone pulls out a dagger and is knocked backwards towards Iona who throws him into one of the beams. Iona steps forward looking for challengers as a guard steps towards her. She grabs him by the shoulders and headbutts him breaking his nose with a loud crack. She lets out a war cry scream as the guard’s body drops to the floor blood going everywhere.
Zora drops to the ground and lands on her hands and knees as a chair flies over head just barely missing her. I quickly dart my head to the side to dodge an incoming ale bottle that smashes behind me on a beam sending ale and glass everywhere. Everyone in the bar is just striking and punching the person closest to them as if a frenzy spell had been cast. I crouch down and finish drinking my Black Briar Reserve as I watch the chaos unfold. Zora stands up and smashes her empty bottle of Honningbrew onto a mans head and then punches him in the jaw sending a tooth flying out.
In the corner Saadia screams and holds up her tray to block a bottle thrown towards her that shatters on the tray in an explosion of glass and fizzy ale. Sinmir the bear of a man picks up a patron who was holding a broken bottle and slams the man down onto a table shattering it into a pile of wood and broken bodies. I watch as Saadia jumps out of the way of a man with a dagger. “BASTARD!” she screams as she slams the tray down onto his head knocking him out. Iona fights anyone who comes near her tossing bodies left and right and headbutting whose who face her.
A wood elf man with long black hair in a ponytail is thrown onto the bar by Iona. His head smashes into an empty wine bottle sending shards of glass and fresh blood all over the bar. He turns around to stand up blindly as blood pours down his face blinding him. He raises his fists to continue the fight before Iona throws another man towards him. The man flying through the air tumbles over the bleeding wood elf and back behind the bar. Saadia throws a bottle at the wood elf and misses. The last thing I remember is watching Iona throw a man onto the ground next to me and Zora mounting him and holding his head as she bashes his head into the ground over and over again while she screams.
Darkness followed by a pounding pain the pounding gets louder and louder. My eyes open wide and I scream and grab my head. I look up and see tent. I turn my head around as I regain consciousness. My head is in Iona’s lap as she sits with her arms crossed half awake. “Welcome back my thane.” She whispers not to wake Zora who is laying down asleep on the floor. Zora sleeps covered by her fluffy white wolf skin cloak her head resting on her bear backpack. “How long?” I ask as I blink my eyes,flick my tail and curl my toes. “We left in the morning my thane. You have slept for one day. We have one more night before we arrive at Solitude in the morning.” She says as she looks down at me like an egg-mother.
I slowly lean forward careful not to upset the pounding in my head. I strain and use all my magika to cast a soft candlelight overhead. I see my backpack on the ground in front of Iona. I reach in and pull out my last bottle of ale. I open it and begin drinking it as fast as I can.I toss the empty bottle out of the carriage as I dig through my backpack. I remove from the backpack the stamped and sealed documents I stole from the fool steward Proventus Avenicci. I remove my forgery kit from one of my front pouches and begin to alter the documents.
I spend the rest of the night forging documents and my a journal detailing my accomplishments for various Jarls. I gently place the scrolls of documents into my backpack just before I pass out on Iona’s shoulder snoring loudly. Morning comes and we all exit the carriage. I thank the carriage driver and we make our way through the front gate of Solitude. The city of stone greets us with a crowd of citizens and guards alike gathered around a public execution.
People shout and throw rotten tomatoes at the man in a stockade. “SOME GUARD YOU WERE!” “MURDERER!” shouts the people. The man pleads with the crowd “There was no murder!” Ulfric challenges Torygg, “He beat the High King in fair combat!”. I open a bottle of nord mead from my backpack and turn towards Zora “ You know this is where I met Veralene.” I say to her with a smile as the mans head is cut off and rolls across the stage. Zora covers her mouth as she gasps at the beheading. “Solitude, the city for lovers…of public execution.” I say with a toothy grin before finishing my bottle of nord mead.
We continue walking through the markets when suddenly Zora jumps up and down and points to a shop “By the Gods! This is the most wonderful store in all of Skyrim! Such a fine selection of dresses and clothes! Now we just need a party to wear them to!” She exclaims. “We’re already behind schedule I need to get to the legion head quarters as soon as possible.” I tell her. “Perhaps I can find a pretty dress for Mrs. Ashwood I already know her size.” She replies with a grin. “Fine but wait inside for me.” I respond as I hand her a coin purse.
Solitude truly is a stunning yet stoic sight to behold. The dominating stone walls on all sides covered in acres of thick elder moss tell the story of Solitude’s age and perseverance. Imperial guards in red bucket helmets patrol the city above and below. The moss covered cobblestone ground of the city speak of the city’s sophistication and place in high society. This was the city that held off the elves. This is the city that holds off the winter year after year. If the Empire is to fall it will fall here or not at all.
Red banners emblazoned with a stoic wolf head and lit pyres dot the walls of the stone city. Citizens both elf and man rub elbows as people make their way through the dense crowds of the markets and pathways.Iona and I make our way past dozens of market stalls,carts and shops that line the interior of the city. Upbeat shopkeepers shout into the crowds promises of good deals. We ascend up flat stone stairs as we get closer to the Legion head quarters.
Finally we reach the inner castle that sits above the rest of the city. Imperial mages, scholars and soldiers walk past another to various appointments and tasks. On the other end of the courtyard recruits train with crossbows and bows as a bold instructor shouts commands at them. Workers come by and fill barrels with cabbages and potatoes while Imperial officers walk through the courtyard going over plans. I spot the entrance to the head quarters with a guard on each side who watch me as I approach the door.
“Halt! No one passes without permission!” I pull out a signed letter from Legate Quentin Cipius I forged last night and hand it to one of the guards. “Legate Cipius of Whiterun has sent me to speak to the general on his behalf in private.” Both the guards carefully examine the letter and look back at me while they read it.
They nod and wave Iona and I through. We enter the smoky dungeon down the hallway straight ahead I see the general arguing with a female Legate. We walk into the room slowly and stand at attention. I take off my helmet in respect and place it over my heart.
”Are my men now giving free reign to anyone who wanders into the castle?” the general says as he looks at me in disgust. I close my eyes and get on one knee. “I am but a humble citizen of this fine Empire who wishes nothing more than to serve my Emperor, my country,and my people. Please oh fair and wise general give this argonian a chance to serve so I may give meaning to my life.” I shout with passion. My eyes shut tight as I await a response.
“I’m afraid we’re not taking in drunk walk ins at the moment.” he says as he leans in towards me with his arms crossed. “I bring with me letters of recommendation from the Jarl’s of whiterun, Falkreath, and Legate Cipius himself.” I exclaim. “I’ll be the judge of that” he responds as I hand over the pile of scrolls. He examines them carefully under the sunlight from above. “Incase you haven’t noticed I also bring with my service the Warbird of the Rift,my housecarl Iona.” I say while looking up at the female legate. “Fair enough. How about we skip the normal process with you and in it’s place I’ve prepared a little test.” the Legate responds before whispering to the general.
The general laughs and smiles after hearing her whisper. The Legate hands me a map. “Head to Fort Hraggstad,clear it out and come back here.” she says with a sinister smile on her face. “It will be done Legate.” I reply as I stand up to accept the map. I salute her and the general before turning around as toothy grin overtakes my face. “I live to serve.” I say as Iona and I walk out of the chambers.
PART 3:BATTLE FOR THE FORT