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The Elder Scrolls IV: Whiterun - Chapter 1

It was a beautiful summer morning in the southern reaches of Skyrim. A few clouds were in the air, but they were soft, wooly clouds that floated gracefully in a sea of aetherial blue. The clouds were not dense and did not block out the sun from reaching the land below. Beams of light shone through the pines like divine rays, an effect which masons carefully crafted temples to achieve, but occurred effortlessly here in nature.

The temperature was pleasant as well- warm, but not too hot. ‘Too hot’ rarely occurred in the northernmost province of Tamriel. If anything, Skyrim was known for being too cold. The south of Skyrim had a slightly more moderate temperature, and perhaps a few days of summer could be described as ‘hot,’ at least by the native Nords who were used to frigid weather. Today, it was among the final days of Last Seed, near the tail end of the summer months, and the temperature was, for most races of the land, just right.

A gentle breeze blew, swaying the trees and carrying with it the aroma of fresh dew. The wind came from northwards and had an ever so slightly frigid sting. It brought along something from the north- a single, solitary dark cloud. This cloud was small, no larger than a coin if one were to gaze up and hold a coin against the sky. As the wind moved the cloud, it hollowed out the inside, forming an oval which looked as if it were a portal to an unholy realm. Then, one end of the oval blew away, and it began to resemble the jaws of some fierce black beast.

The more superstitiously-minded of Skyrim’s residents may have taken it as an ill omen. But along the border of the Holds of Falkreath and Whiterun, dominated by colossal mountains and towering pines, the portent went largely unnoticed. The delightful day continued, for now.

Morning gave way to noon. The scent of dew faded from the air. The forest rustled with activity. Rabbits bounced through the grass, searching for food while foxes and wolves quietly stalked them. From hawks to ravens to pine thrushes, birds of all shapes and sizes took flight from the branches and landed back on the treetops upon returning from the skies.

Amidst the movement of beasts and birds, there was activity on the road as well. Three figures rode westwards on horses that were the stockier breeds of the north. The mount in the lead sported a black coat, and the bearded man atop seemed to be a Nord from his stature and paler skin. His clothing affirmed this, as it was of a very traditional Nordic design, consisting of a mixture of furs and metal armour pieces. He held the reins of his steed in one hand and a spear in the other, with a sword hanging sheathed by his side.

The second was a bay horse. Her rider was a Redguard man, as indicated by his markedly darker skin. Though he wore leather armour in the style of Skyrim, the Redguard retained the traditional head wrappings seen in some cultures of Hammerfell, the homeland of his people. He carried with him a pair of scimitars, curved blades that were a trademark of the Redguards.

The third horse was dapple grey in colour with a rider clad in shining steel plate. The rider’s helmet was off, revealing fair skin and golden hair that identified her as another Nord. She was as tall as either of the men; perhaps a little taller than the Redguard but not quite the height of the other Nord, though it was difficult to say for certain on horseback. A round shield rested on her back and a long blade at her side. A second sword hung behind the saddle alongside her unworn helmet.

As the three riders trotted down the road, a woman emerged from the forest on foot. She too seemed to be a Nord, but her hair was not blonde like the other Nord woman. It was a light shade of brown that matched the pine needles around her. The woman was dressed in simple furs, a common attire in Skyrim. She wore a quiver on her back and held a bow, though she did not have any arrow notched. She simply stopped on the road and waved to the riders.

Seeing no threat from the woman, the Nord man raised his hand in a gesture of greeting and all three stopped their steeds in front of her.

“I hope I’m not interrupting any urgent business,” the unmounted woman spoke.

“We are here on business,” replied the Nord man, “but it is not so urgent that we have no time to spare. I take it you stopped us for a reason. Do you need help?”

“No. Well, not for me, at least. You do not wear the colours of any Hold, but I assume by your look that you are warriors?”

“You assume correctly. I am Terrfyg,” the Nord man introduced himself before gesturing to the Redguard. “This is Bakir of Tigonus,” then to the armoured woman, “and Freya Battle-Born. We are of the Companions of Jorrvaskr.”

The Nord woman’s eyes widened at the final name, “You are Companions? I am Hrotti, daughter of Kirstild. I am a huntress from Riverwood.”

“What do you need of us, Hrotti?” Terrfyg asked.

“Some people were attacked down the road,” Hrotti explained. “I do not have the coin to hire you, nor would I wish to for these are not people I know. It was an Imperial caravan, and quite an important one by the looks of it.”

Now, it was Terrfyg’s turn to show surprise, “An Imperial caravan? Attacked? This may just be the work of our quarry.”

“Did you see the ones who did it?” Bakir inquired.

Hrotti shook her head, “I didn’t see the attack, only the aftermath. But some of the dead were dressed in Nord armour, and not very good armour like yours. They look like bandits and I suspect they were the attackers.”

“Show us the site of this attack,” Terrfyg instructed.

Hrotti of Riverwood turned and began to lead the way quite eagerly. The three Companions followed on horseback, their steeds walking slowly behind her. The sun was edging westward now as the day transitioned slowly into afternoon.

While they walked, their guide asked curiously, “You are hunting bandits who have been raiding Imperial caravans, then?”

“We are hunting a group of Horme in this region,” answered Freya. “They are known for attacking Imperials. If you ask any of them, they would no doubt deny being bandits, but they’re really just common thugs.”

“I count them as just another group of bandits too,” Hrotti agreed.

Freya nodded, “All their talk of the Wolf Queen and her son being the last true heirs to the Empire are nothing but excuses for opportunistic banditry.”

“Exactly,” Bakir joined the conversation. “Who in their right mind would support that necromancer? I bet in life all her followers were brainwashed with illusion magic. In death, I don’t see anyone with a grain of sense thinking she was anything except pure evil.”

“Even if they really believe today’s Emperors are illegitimate, they should build an army and storm Imperial forts,” said Freya. “That’s what true Nords would do, not attack merchants who happen to be coming from Cyrodiil.”

“It’s a good thing you’re here to get rid of them,” commented Hrotti.

The group did not travel on the road for much longer. Soon, Hrotti veered off on a trail leading into the woods. Clear tracks of hoofprints and lines drawn by wagon wheels could still be seen on the dirt path, likely left behind by this ill-fated caravan. Following the trail, they came upon a clearing which housed the remnants of a campsite alongside the remains of those who had last camped here.

The three Companions immediately saw what Hrotti meant by an ‘important’ caravan. The vehicle that had made the wheel tracks was not a merchant’s wagon, but a carriage complete with a canopy. The centre of the encampment contained a rather large tent, now tattered by the fighting that took place, but would have once been a suitable home away from home for any Imperial noble.

Several of the bodies strewn throughout the campsite wore plate armour- not any plate, but the distinctive armour of the Imperial Legion. Imperial livery can be seen all through the clearing, with the dragon emblem of the Empire displayed proudly on the sides of the carriage and the central tent. There was even an Imperial banner on the ground, the red now stained by dark soil. It was clear to everyone that this was no merchant caravan. Whoever they were, they came on Imperial business.

The non-legionnaire bodies in the clearing seemed to fall into two categories. The first were the Nords, dressed in Nordic furs and hides. Some had pieces of iron armour, but none had full plate like Freya’s and instead used mismatched bits and pieces. The second group of bodies wore red robes. They could have been nobles the legionnaires were escorting, though their robes were simple and had hoods attached; an appearance more befitting of mages than nobility.

“Search the camp,” Terrfyg ordered the others. “Find out who the parties in this skirmish were and see if we can get a trail on where the attackers went.”

The Companions dismounted and dispersed through the camp. Hrotti joined them as well, though she seemed to avoid gazing at the corpses more than she had to, unlike the three seasoned warriors who were undisturbed by the scene. The huntress and the Redguard warrior focused more on the tracks on the edges of the clearing, while Terrfyg and Freya examined the bodies in the centre.

After a minute of searching, Terrfyg paused as he came across two distinct bodies lying side by side. One was an Imperial man dressed in a purple robe which was notably more elaborate than the red hooded ones. Beside him, judging from the size and features, was the body of a Nord. Unlike the others, this Nord was fully armoured, but her armour was not that of a legionnaire.

“I recognize this armour,” stated Terrfyg. “She was a knight of the Blades. This might be more important a caravan than we thought.”

“Yes, it is,” affirmed Freya as she walked over from the direction of the carriage with a piece of paper in a gauntleted hand. “This was the convoy of Prince Enman.”

Terrfyg blinked twice at the revelation. The first time, he appeared to still be processing the new information, but on the second his mind had connected the pieces. His gaze shot over from the paper Freya held to the body of the purple-robed Imperial. Slowly, he knelt beside the dead man, raising his left hand.

“Then this,” he said, turning over the hand to find the distinctive signet ring of the Septim dynasty upon the little finger, “was one of the sons of the Emperor.”

And so in the early morning hours of the 27th of Last Seed in the Year 433 of the Third Era, Prince Enman Septim, second son of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, was murdered on a diplomatic journey to the northern province of Skyrim.

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