Original Skyrim fiction by Carl Malcolm…
I was able to shake off the hood thanks to the incessant jolting and bumping of the cart we had been thrown in. I tried to take in the surroundings, to place where we had been dragged, but the fog didn’t allow. I wouldn’t have been able to see my hand in front of my face, had it not been tied behind my back.
I could hear the sleepy groans of the high priestess across from me, she had been taken out first in the attack. We were in the middle of the grandest summoning we had ever undertaken. It would have been glorious, the Wolf Queen Potema, summoned and bound. But not to be, thanks to a team of Vigilants. Azura only knows how they found us, and how they managed to take out the plethora of dead guarding us without raising any alarm.
I didn’t have time to worry about that though, I had to try and get free of these bindings. If I could just get my hands loose, a quick Frenzy spell followed by Invisibility would be enough for me to slip away into the night. I struggled against the ropes but it felt like they were serrated. Invoking my Ancestors Wrath would burn through the ropes but its not exactly my style, plus slipping away unnoticed whilst on fire is a feat I wouldn’t like to try.
This damned fog just wasn’t thinning out, and I figured out why once I noticed the ethereal whispers that drifted in the air. The fog was unnatural, an illusion created by an by someone to cover our progress.
I cast Clairvoyance a few times without our captors noticing, thinking of different places throughout Skyrim each time. The shining path that appeared in my minds eye told me our position was somewhere southwest of the Throat of the World. The only hold I could think of with any slight importance was Helgen.
Why we would be taken there I had no idea, but my attention was diverted by the high priestess whispering to me, well, had she known it was me sat across from her she might not have bothered. When I was first initiated into the coven she had assumed I was just another underling. My illusions had not threatened her, but the speed with which I picked up her necromantic skills had her withholding lessons from me after a few weeks. She had attempted to turn the others against me, but to no avail, though she was still unaware that the only reason her machinations failed were due to a few well placed Pacify spells.
The look she gave me when she was struck by the Vigilants Paralyze spell was one of unveiled accusation. Of course I too had been struck down, and not with a spell but with a mace I might add, hence the throbbing in the back of my head.
‘Where are we? Gravga, Hilga?’ She whimpered, I’d never heard fear in her voice before. Pathetic.
‘Hush, Azarith. Our friends will hear you.’
‘Who- Lilith? You treacherous little bitch! I’ll flay you for this!’ She spat inside her hood.
‘Quiet back there, or I’ll be taking tongues!’ The guard was mere feet away from us.
He must have been the one casting the illusion, as the fog wavered as he called back to us, revealing my suspicions to be correct. The Throat of the World towered in the north, and we had just arrived at the gates of Helgen.
The fog dissipated fully to expose our reception. A score of Vigilants waited in the streets as we trundled by. The hatred in their eyes told more insults than the ones they held behind gritted teeth.
The streets were slick with frostmelt, mixed with mud and filth. Apparently there weren’t enough people left to keep Helgen from this sorry state, the rest having been drafted into another petty war. I shouldn’t moan though, the war was the reason I’d had so many lost souls to practice with.
Our cart turned a corner and we arrived at what would probably serve as the towns centre. There waiting for us was a priest of Arkay, a headsman’s block, plus a funeral pire. Evidently they didn’t trust us to stay dead even without our heads, so our mutilated remains would keep the peasants warm awhile.
We were surrounded by Vigilants as the cart slowed. They watched us like vultures, ready to strike if we so much as twitched. One by one we were dragged from the cart, starting with Azarith. I sincerely hoped the others could tell who it was that openly wept despite their hoods.
The fact that I had managed to get free of my own hood seemed to go unnoticed by our captors, I was pulled from the cart without ceremony just like the others. They gathered us in front of the priest, a small herd of necromancers set to quivering at the thought of death. I need not point out the irony.
This is probably what we deserve, our kind are hunted down throughout all of Tamriel, and with good reason. I have repeatedly tried to fathom the pain of being dragged back into the world kicking and screaming in undeath.
When I had first set my hand to black magic it had gone horribly wrong. I had managed to bring the Khajiit back easily enough – the longer a body has rested without the soul the harder it is to bring said soul back, and it was mere seconds ago that I had slit her throat – the only problem was I had messed up the binding part. The way it screamed, it set my teeth on edge, and once it set its empty eyes on me there was nothing I could have done to bend it to my will. Luckily for me she had been weak in life, so was easily overcome in death.
It was this incident that led me to research the effects of the binding, and as it turns out, not only does binding the dead set it to your will, but it also breaks the zombies mind, stopping it from feeling any sort of pain.
I was brought out of my reverie by screams, they were having to drag Azarith to the block, after all, who needs dignity when your neck is on the line?
With this distraction in play I caught the attention of a local guard gawping next to me. The moment I locked eyes with him he was mine. Most spells are difficult without free movement of the hands, but his mind was laughably weak, and I am no novice when it comes to Illusion.
He quickly set to my bindings with my silent instruction. Slice and chop. The rope parted just as Azarith’s head was parted from her body. A shame, I needed her head intact to reanimate the entire body.
No matter though, with my hands free I prepared my mind for Harmony, this spell always took a few seconds to ready, and no-one had noticed my freedom yet. I cast the spell, an eldritch green light filled the town centre and everyone visibly relaxed, including my brothers and sisters. I walked over to them and relieved them of their hoods and ropes.
Any Vigilants that noticed my actions were unperturbed by them, much like the ill-fated cow passively watches the hungry farmers approach, axe in hand.
My death-siblings were all equally as passive as our few spectators, I honestly hadn’t imagined that all of them would have such malleable minds.
The Vigilants eyes were all starting to brighten once more just as I was done freeing the necromancers. I could have gone then and there, leaving the rest of the coven to their fate, but if there’s one thing you can trust Stendarr’s Vigilants to be, then that’s vigilant. There was no way my escape would have gone without notice, I needed to wipe them all out if I was to be free to continue my work without harassment.
So with one hand I cast Invisibility and the other I bolstered the coven into action with Rally, an unexpectedly useful spell that gives weak-minded fools the courage to fight a battle they have no hope of winning.
It was a bloodbath. A couple of witches managed to conjure an atronach to fight for them, forgetting they were against Vigilants, who banished it immediately. Another tried to raise Azarith, but of course as I mentioned earlier, the head is needed. She just flopped there grotesquely whilst a few feet away her head screeched. I was actually embarrassed at having associated with them after seeing how they handled themselves.
The only one to last longer than a minute was the newest recruit, a hulking Orsimer by the name of Gularzab. He had come to us claiming to be a prodigy within his tribe, and he told the truth by all accounts. His only folly was measuring his magical prowess against other orcs. A fish that can fly is without a doubt going to be the best at flying in all the oceans, but compared to a hawk it’s rather redundant.
The only reason for his short-lived survival was his abandonment of magic, he managed to kill three armed men with his bare hands before they felled him. Impressive really.
Overall that was a poor effort. I was now left with close to thirty martially trained men and women to kill if I included the local guards, which I supposed I would have to.
Keeping the Invisibility going I sent whispers of a Frenzy to the biggest of the men there. At first they resisted, but I had done this before, to men of greater resolve than these.
Eventually they started grunting and growling like feral beasts, while the others watched them curiously.
‘What’s the matter Godvir?’ the spindly leader of the Vigilants asked one of his men. Albeit he was concerned for his soldier, yet he tightened his grip on his mace as he spoke nonetheless. Poor Godvir took note of this, the mildest sign of aggression, that’s all it takes. He flew at his superior officer teeth bared and sword swinging.
Though the old man struck an unimposing figure, there was obviously a reason for his position in the order other than his age. In one flowing movement he disarmed Godvir and knocked him unconscious with a palm to the temple.
Others had already descended on each other by this time, so I calmly chose a safe spot from which to watch my chaos. Brother fought brother, and I sat and chuckled to myself.
I raised Gularzab again just for good measure, but this time he decided he wanted weapons and picked up a couple of discarded maces.
Screams erupted from blood drowned lungs as the righteous Daedra hunters slaughtered each other in unbridled rage. None of them had the mental faculty to stop and wonder what they were angry about.
It took no longer than ten minutes for them to wipe each other out, leaving all but their leader blood-sodden on the ground.
I searched the survivors mind to find his name was Alvantus, which was a mild surprise, with milky skin like his I mistook this Imperial for a Nord.
As far as he could see with his own two eyes, the grey walls of Helgen stood as lone witness to this slaughter – any peasants foolish enough to stay in their homes would be locked in their cellars at this point – yet Alvantus knew I was there watching, somewhere.
‘Come out and face me like a man you coward!’ He stood panting looking a vision of carnage covered in his comrades blood and flesh. Had I been a lesser Mer I would have been scared of him, but I saw the grief in his eyes even from my safe distance, he had genuinely cared about his soldiers.
I supposed that I owed him a dignified end, so I dispelled my Invisibility and conjured two daggers as I approached him. I wasnt even sure I could take him in open combat, but there are some souls in this world that you simply can’t take from the shadows.
He gasped as I wavered into view, his bravery faltering but for a second. He looked me over, then looked around himself.
‘You did all this?’
‘No. They did this themselves. You did this.’
His sword struck faster than I had thought possible, my reflexes alone turned a fatal blow into a glancing one, a shallow cut across the ribs that I didn’t have time to feel. Pirouetting neatly to his left I slashed at his face, aiming to blind him, not only did I miss his eye but he had ducked under my reach completely and was slashing toward my ankle.
I hopped mere inches above his strike and in the same movement broke his nose with my knee. His head flung back exposing his throat, yet before I could even aim a blow he used the momentum to roll back out of reach.
A few paces away we stopped and took measure of each other. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and sneered.
‘I thought necromancers were supposed to hide behind their dead, where did you learn moves like that?’ He panted, he wasn’t long for this world.
I answered with only a smirk and charged before he could regain his breath. I ran with both daggers raised above head while he lowered his blade for me to land on. At the last second I dropped to the floor and used the charge to slide between his legs, opening his left thigh, or that had been my aim anyway.
Somehow he had seen this coming and struck down at me as I dropped, skewering my left shoulder to the floor. The surprise on his face mirrored my own, and for what felt like an age we just stayed there staring into the others eyes.
Then finally, his eyes glazed over as his essence was sucked into the hungry Black Soul Gem resting on a leather thong over my heart. I had been saving it for a special occasion.
He still stood as I reached up and yanked my Bound Dagger loose from his heart, freeing pints of hot dark blood to wash over me.
I pulled his sword free from my shoulder as he fell backward still wearing that surprised look on his face.
‘Ah! Gods!’ I set to healing the wound still sat in Alvantus’ blood, exhausted. With my right hand emitting a white light over my shoulder I held the Soul Gem in my left hand close to my face. Looking into the inky depths of the small crystal I saw the faintest shimmer.