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The Elder Scrolls IV: Whiterun - Chapter 5

It began in the middle of the night.

About an hour before, Terrfyg was roused from his sleep by uneasy dreams, the contents of which he could not recall upon returning to the waking world. He tried to rest again, but after some time turning about in his bed to no avail, he decided to rise. He dressed in simple clothes; there was no call for armour, though he brought his sword with him as a warrior should always have a weapon on hand.

When Terrfyg reached the main hall of Jorrvaskr, he was surprised to find that he was not alone. Katrida was there as well, sitting at one of the smaller tables to the side of the dining area. The central firepit had gone out, but the warrior-bard had lit candles and was writing away with a quill at her table.

“I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else awake at this hour,” Terrfyg commented as he approached.

“Neither was I,” replied Katrida. “Can’t sleep?”

Terrfyg nodded, “You?”

“Never went to sleep. I was writing.”

“This late?”

“You never know when inspiration strikes.”

Terrfyg poured himself a mug of ale and seated himself at Katrida’s table. The two conversed for a short while, talking about the bard’s latest composition. It was an epic song of a fictional hero who slew a powerful vampire lord but contracted the affliction in the process. The song explored his struggles with his new state, though Katrida had apparently not yet conceived the ending and did not know whether it would be a tragedy or a tale of redemption.

As they talked, Terrfyg heard a loud crack, followed by what sounded like stone grinding against stone. Katrida paused mid-sentence, having clearly heard it as well.

“What was that?” she asked.

“I think it came from outside,” Terrfyg commented.

Katrida needed no direction. Both Companions stood and made for the front doors of the mead hall. Terrfyg drew his sword from its sheath while the bard unhooked her war axe from her belt. They each pushed one door open, and were met with an unexpected sight.

The first thing Terrfyg noticed was the red sky, upon which neither moon could be seen. Then, a glow from the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned to see a huge gateway to the side of Jorrvaskr, in the place where the statue of Talos once was. The image of the hero-god of man had been shattered into pieces and the portal, crackling with fiery energy, loomed above the severed stone head like the maw of a predator about to consume its prey.

Two beings emerged from the portal. They were short creatures that walked on two legs, with long pointed ears, sharp claws and a rat-like tail. Terrfyg recognized them as Scamps, Daedra from the realms of Oblivion. They were frequently summoned by more novice conjurers, which he had encountered many of among outlaw groups. Scamps were among the weakest of the Daedric beings, and the pair posed little threat to the Companions.

Terrfyg and Katrida raised their weapons and charged. Both Scamps stretched out an arm and sent two balls of fire flying towards their enemy. The Companions were ready for this, being wise to the capabilities of Scamps. They both stepped to the side and the fireballs passed them, hitting the stairs leading up to Jorrvaskr. The two Nords closed the distance before the Scamps could create another fireball, and the lesser Daedra resorted to their claws.

Despite the diminutive size of the creatures, a Scamp’s capability in close-quarters was not to be underestimated. Without armour protecting him, a well-placed swipe from the Scamp’s razor-like claws could easily open an artery and prove fatal. Terrfyg did not give the creature a chance to strike. He swung his blade like a flash of lightning, slashing the Scamp’s neck and immediately leaping back out of range of any dying thrashes as his enemy fell. Beside him, Katrida executed a similar attack, cutting down the second Scamp.

Once the Scamps were dealt with, Terrfyg looked up at the towering portal surrounded by jagged black rock. Who could have created such a thing in the middle of Whiterun under the noses of the city guard? And why did they open the portal here? Whoever was responsible could just as easily have done this in the Cloud District, where the Jarl and other important figures lived. They must be targeting the Companions specifically. Could it have been related to Prince Enman’s murderers?

He glanced towards Katrida, but before they had a chance to discuss the situation, more Daedra began to step out of the portal. The next two to emerge were not Scamps, but a small Clannfear and an armoured figure with crimson skin and horns. Terrfyg knew the more humanoid figure to be a Dremora, among the more intelligent and organized inhabitants of the various Oblivion planes. Dremora were easily one of the most dangerous lesser Daedra, only conjured by the most skilled sorcerers, and even then not always without incident.

Terrfyg did not give his enemies a chance to choose their opponents. He engaged the Dremora first, taking on the stronger foe so Katrida, being a less experienced warrior, had only to deal with the Clannfear. The Dremora fought with a single mace, which was easy for the unarmoured Terrfyg to evade. He outmaneuvered his enemy and landed several hits, but his more nimble movement was offset by the Dremora’s armour, which turned away his blows.

The duel finally ended when Terrfyg gripped his sword with two hands and slammed the blade on the Dremora’s knee using the strength of both arms. The Dremora staggered back, creating an opening which Terrfyg exploited. Bringing his sword back up, he stabbed it straight through the Dremora’s mouth, killing him- or rather, banishing him. He had heard mages explain that Daedra did not truly die and would somehow be reborn back in Oblivion, but it did not matter now. This Dremora was gone, and he wouldn’t be returning anytime soon.

Unfortunately, others of his kind were not far behind him. As they slew the Dremora and Clannfear, three more Dremora were already emerging from the portal. Terrfyg yanked his sword out of the fallen Dremora’s corpse, retrieving his enemy’s black mace as well which he held in his left hand, better arming himself against the armour of the new foes.

“The two of us can’t hold them back at this pace,” he called to Katrida.

The bard nodded, retrieving a Nordic war horn which she kept on her belt. She blew into the horn a single long note, recognizable across Tamriel as a warning of attack. The horn bellowed through the city, more than enough to rouse the other Companions of Jorrvaskr and alert the Whiterun guard.

She had time to sound the horn only once, and then the enemy was upon them. Terrfyg unleashed a flurry of blows with both weapons upon the leftmost Dremora, who also wielded a single mace. With only one weapon, the Dremora was unable to keep his attacks at bay and was struck down before any of the others could engage. Katrida dueled with the Dremora on the right, leaving the central one with Terrfyg.

The central Dremora had a feminine form and was armed with a sword and shield. Terrfyg parried his opponent’s sword strokes with his own blade, all the while pummelling her shield with the mace. Though the shield protected the Dremora from direct strikes, the repeated trauma would eventually fracture the bones in her forearm or otherwise render her unable to maintain the blocking. She was no mortal woman however, and the process took longer than Terrfyg would have liked. This Dremora was also more skilled than her mace-wielding brethren, and Terrfyg did not find any obvious openings to exploit.

Katrida finished off the Dremora she was fighting and turned to aid Terrfyg, striking his opponent over the head from behind. The Dremora wore a helmet, which prevented the bard’s axe from killing her outright. The blow still dazed her and Terrfyg seized the opportunity, swinging his mace upwards at the Dremora’s head. She fell backwards, her helmet flying off. When she landed on the ground, it was quite possible that she was already dead, but Terrfyg slashed his blade across the Dremora’s neck for good measure.

In the time it took them to take down the three Dremora, five more had appeared from the portal. This group had three warriors with maces, one of whom held a shield, along with a bowman and a female Dremora in robes, clearly a mage. They did not charge in and instead began a slow march forward. Katrida took the opportunity to blow her horn again.

“We were promised a challenge, and you have delivered,” the Dremora archer spoke in a demonic guttural voice as he looked around at the corpses of his fellows. “But now you will die.”

“If this is the day Sovngarde beckons for me, I welcome it,” Terrfyg replied. “Though Tsun knows I will fight to my last breath, and hundreds of your kin will fall beneath my blade before that moment.”

“Good!” exclaimed the bowman. “Then we understand one another, Companion.”

“You can never understand us, demon.”

“Nor you us, mortal. But in battle we share a common language. No more words, let us speak with our weapons!”

Katrida’s war horn sounded a third time, and the battle was readjourned. Terrfyg went for the mage first, as her magic made her a substantial threat and her lack of armour made it easier to finish her off quickly. As expected, the Dremora with the shield stepped in his way to prevent him from reaching the mage, and the two warriors clashed.

During the exchange of blows, Terrfyg noticed one of the mace-wielding Dremora moving to flank Katrida while she was occupied with the other. Breaking away from his opponent, Terrfyg swung his mace at the flanking Dremora’s head while he was focused on the bard. It caved in the Dremora’s horned skull and the rest of his armoured body lifelessly clattered down.

Terrfyg spun back around to face the Dremora with the shield, only to find that he did not close in. Instead, the Dremora had intentionally backed away to give the mage a clear line of sight to attack the Companion. Terrfyg saw the mage’s hands glow and ducked just quick enough to avoid the fireball as it flew over his head.

Katrida was not so lucky. She cut down the second mace-wielding Dremora, but just as her opponent fell, the bowman unleashed his shot. The arrow struck her chest, sending her staggering back as it penetrated the hide armour. The warrior-bard let out a yell of fury and charged the Dremora archer. He fired again, this time hitting her abdomen, where the scales of her armour protected her more. The strength of the arrow from such close range still allowed it to embed there, and the force of the impact sent her falling to the ground.

Terrfyg rushed in to assist his Shield-Sister. In his hurry to take down the bowman however, he did not see the Dremora with the shield until the black and red shield was right in front of him. By then, it was too late to evade and the Dremora slammed the shield into his chest, knocking him down. Terrfyg had barely regained his breath when the Dremora swung his mace to finish him off.

Reacting on pure instinct, the veteran Companion rolled out of the way, then, using the sharp tips of his own Dremora mace, hooked onto the enemy’s weapon and kept it pinned. With his weapon trapped, the Dremora moved to bash his shield down onto Terrfyg, but the Companion was faster. He stabbed the sword in his other hand upwards through the Dremora’s neck. His armoured foe struggled for a moment before collapsing onto him.

As Terrfyg crawled out from beneath the Dremora, he saw that Katrida had gathered her strength and risen to her feet. With a defiant roar, she continued her charge. The archer fired again, but the warrior-bard moved too fast. This arrow hit her shoulder, glancing off the armour there, and Katrida was upon him before he could draw another. Her axe came down in a powerful two-handed blow, splitting the Dremora’s head.

Even more Daedra had stepped through the gate now, including two additional bowmen. The mage remaining from the previous wave backed away behind the fresh warriors. Several Dremora with maces began to approach Katrida, but she swung her axe in front of her in wide arcs, forcing them back. The two archers drew their bows and fired. One arrow hit the bard in the chest and the other in the thigh. She fell to her knees, dropping the axe beside her.

“I Sovngarde...” the bard uttered weakly.

Terrfyg stood, pulling his sword from the Dremora’s neck. Looking around, he realized that there were now a dozen Dremora, each with their gazes affixed on him. Leaping into the fray with two weapons would spell a very quick death, especially as he had no armour protecting him. At this point, his death was all but certain, though he intended to keep his promise of taking as many foes with him as he could. Thus, he opted to pick up his enemy’s shield.

“So this is it,” he said. “Come on, then! Give me a death worthy of song!”

A particularly large Dremora, taller even than the Nord warrior, stepped out from among their number. He held a claymore in his hands and his face was obscured by a spiked helmet. Despite this, Terrfyg could tell from the positioning of the helmet that its wearer was staring directly at him. His challenge was heard and accepted.

The others stood and watched as the Dremora swung his two-handed sword at the Companion. Terrfyg sidestepped the blow and struck with his blade. Though the swing connected, it barely phased his armoured opponent. The Dremora swung his claymore again, this time at an angle Terrfyg was unable to evade. He raised his shield which blocked the strike, but the force sent him stumbling.

The Dremora’s third attack came much quicker than Terrfyg had anticipated; he wielded the claymore with greater strength than any man and was able to move faster with it. Terrfyg knew he could not keep blocking for much longer. Instead, he slammed the shield into the side of the greatsword, redirecting the blow and sending the sword towards the ground. He immediately followed suit with a jab from his own sword towards the Dremora’s neck, aiming to catch him between the helmet and chestplate.

However, the Dremora removed one hand from his weapon and parried the blade with his armoured gauntlet before sending the gauntlet into the side of Terrfyg’s head. The heavy punch caused his ears to ring, and his vision blurred with stars. Terrfyg retreated backwards in a stagger, holding the shield up in front of him in a desperate attempt to block any incoming strikes.

When his eyes cleared, he expected to see the Dremora directly in front of him, his claymore coming down for a finishing stroke. Instead, his foe stood in the same place he was at moments ago. Terrfyg looked confused for a second, and then he heard a woman’s voice crying “Ysgramor!” and he knew what had happened.

He risked a glance over his shoulder and affirmed what he thought. The front doors of Jorrvaskr were thrown wide open. There was Harbinger Ragnhild, holding high a greataxe of Skyforge steel and clad in her shining blue armour of Stalhrim, gifted to her by the Skaal of Solstheim. There was Holskar, brandishing a war axe in each hand, garbed from head to toe in trollbone armour. There was Ulfdir Gray-Mane in Nordic chainmail, notching an arrow on his glass bow of elven make.

There was Freya in her steel plate and Shelaz in her Orcish armour. There was Bakir with his twin scimitars, Gunnar with his axe and shield. And there came all the warriors within Jorrvaskr, charging out from the ancient mead hall to defend their home.

Terrfyg joined his fellow Companions in their charge when they reached him. The two sides met by the gateway, and the din of battle echoed throughout the Wind District. As the fighting raged on, a group of Whiterun guards made their way up the stairs and joined the battle. A second guard force arrived not long after, doing what they could to keep the Daedra at bay.

The invaders from Oblivion kept emerging from the portal. Bold Brynvar pressed furthest ahead as usual, but this time would be his last as he was cut down by Clannfear claws. Tildi Sharp-Eye slew two Dremora mages with her throwing axes, drawing the ire of the enemy. She was caught by surprise when several armoured Dremora wielding melee weapons suddenly unleashed magic upon her. Most among the initial group of guards were lost as well.

Svangar Shield-Breaker was struck by the blade of a large Dremora when his warhammer did not push back his foe as much as he was hoping. Holskar, who fought nearby, aided his Shield-Brother in time, beheading the Dremora and carrying the wounded Companion away from the battle. Svangar retreated to the Temple of Kynareth for healing and Holskar returned to the fight, roaring as he swung his axes into the Daedra ranks.

Even the warriors of Jorrvaskr could not stem the tide, as no weapon at their disposal was able to bring down the gate. With support from the guard, they were able to form a perimeter around the portal, and so the Companions stood firm, holding the line against any Daedra that stepped through. The battle continued through the night, though with the gateway surrounded, Terrfyg was able to step back from the fighting to take a moment of rest.

He moved first to where Katrida lay, pierced by many arrows. There was nothing he could do for her; she had already passed beyond the brink of death. Terrfyg knelt beside her body, closing her eyes and setting her war axe upon her chest.

“You fought well, Shield-Sister,” he whispered to her. “I will see you again in Shor’s honoured halls.”

Terrfyg looked up to find Ulfdir in front of him. The bowmaster knelt down as well, paying his respects to his fallen Shield-Sister.

“She was a noble warrior,” said Ulfdir. “A most noble warrior and an excellent skald. We shall miss her lovely voice in Jorrvaskr.”

Terrfyg sighed, “I tried to protect her in the battle. I took on the most dangerous foes. I should have been the one to fall, yet they still got her.”

“No, brother,” Ulfdir set a hand on Terrfyg’s shoulder. “If anything, we should have come to your aid sooner. But the Harbinger counselled that if we went without our armour and weapons, it would be a bloodbath and far more would be lost.”

“It is wise counsel. You did the right thing. I suppose Sovngarde simply beckoned for her, as it will for us all one day. We are but mortal men, after all.”

“Yes,” Ulfdir replied, getting back to his feet. “Though this day we will show these demons that the children of Kyne are not to be trifled with, mortal we may be.”

Terrfyg stood as well, looking to the portal, “We have them bottlenecked at the gate. They will have to relent eventually.”

“Soon, I hope,” the bowmaster gazed around the battlefield, then back to Terrfyg. “For now, we have things in hand. You should take the Harbinger’s counsel. Get your armour and your spear. We will hold them back in the meantime.”

Terrfyg nodded, heading back to the mead hall. Though they had the gate surrounded, he wondered if they could really win this battle. The Dremora were no common bandits, but skilled warriors and sorcerers. Three Companions had already fallen, with one more taken out of the fight. Terrfyg himself had nearly been bested by one of the demons in single combat, though he was admittedly worn from the previous encounters. Still, he was a member of the Circle, one of the greatest among Jorrvaskr, and all his training and experience did not avail him.

The Companions were the finest warriors in all of Skyrim, but he feared that against the hordes of Oblivion, even they would not be enough.

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