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  1. 4 points
    The Duel "This place... it feels... strange. It has a familiarity that I've never known. Not to this degree. Is this what people mean when they say they feel 'At home'? I've never known this feeling before. Well, perhaps when I'm killing. But this place... I feel it. Coursing through my very being. I used to go by the name 'Morihaus' jokingly. Child of Kyne. It was meaningless to most Imperials. They just called me a mad bull. Didn't recognize the nobleness of it. Neither did I. But here? Now? At The Throat of the World? I not only believe it to be true. I know it. I felt something tick inside my head the moment I made it up here. Like something in my head just... aligned itself properly. Like things are starting to make sense. My purpose in life. I am here to show you, show all of you that I am your rightful leader. Don't you see? Look at your history. The wars, the strife, the beautiful violence. The strong rule. That's all this all is. The Arena. A fight to be at the top of the world. So isn't it appropriate that we'd do battle here? For the honor of leading our people against elvenkind as we've always done? For the honor of killing the enemy in the name of mighty Shor? I've never been a god fearing man, but now I see... this is the ultimate prize. This is why I've been so obsessed with your blood. Your father, Baldur. He was the only man alive that's ever bested me. And then you killed him... or so I thought. But after this, after I've beaten you, he'll have to come to me. And then I, Brund, will finally prove that I am the best! No one is greater than I! I am the champion of man! And unfortunately for you, Baldur... there can be only one champion. So... my rival. My shield brother. Are you ready to die?" As the greybeards took their place around the peak of the mountain, crouching on their knees in a large open circle, Baldur took his place before Brund, listening to his every word. Baldur could see Veleda beside Arngeir as well. Figures, he thought. If he died, even if her life was in danger, at least she could take pleasure in seeing his own life end first. Baldur looked to the skies where Paarthurnax flew on high. It was strange, Brund didn't seem the least bit curious about it, didn't think to ask what a dragon was doing here or why the Greybeards didn't react to it. Masser and Secunda along with all the stars of Aetherius were also present, watching the spectacle below them with all the interest and wonder that the mortals often gave them when gawking from below. Baldur finally rested his eyes on his target. The man who killed his son. Daric never did anything but try his hardest to be something he was not. And in the end, he'd accomplished that goal through death. Such was the way of Nords. He supposed that if it were someone else's son, he would think, "The boy is old enough to follow his own path. He knew what he was doing." But it wasn't someone else's son, it was his. A boy he'd trained, and taken care of, worried over and loved. A boy that looked up to him, mimicked him and listened to his every word. Well, perhaps not his every word. Especially not recently. And now, after pushing him away, after taking him for granted, Brund Hammer-Fang forever robbed him of ever seeing him again. "I want to know why," said Baldur as he raised his axes. "Why are you doing all of this? What the ****, have I done to you besides treat you as my equal? Tell me?!" "What have you done? Did you not hear me, Baldur? You thought you were better than me! You and your father both! And for that, you will die! You, and your entire bloodline!" proclaimed Brund. "I swear it! Even if I die today I'll find a way to destroy you!" Brund let out a roar so great that the snowfall ceased, blown away from the peak of the mountain as if fleeing Brund's power. The ground around them began to shake and rumble, as if it too was seeking to flee. Amongst all of this, Baldur stood firm. His eyes were locked on Brund and they never left, even as the ground threatened to topple him. Brund continued to roar, displaying his might to the entire world. And with how great the volume of his voice was, Baldur didn't doubt that the entire world could hear him. "Come on, my king!" cried Brund as he tossed aside his troll helm, replacing it with the fabled Jagged Crown. "Show me what you can do!" Baldur thought of the blood on Brund's hammer, and his threat to wipe out his entire family as well. He thought of the first time he and Rebec found one another, the way they'd fucked as though they'd done so in countless lifetimes before. The blood they'd spilled together both on the battlefield and in childbirth. And the tears they spilled in shared fears and heartache. And Ragna. His daughter who by now he should've been on the way to see if not for the monster that stood in his way. All of this, the passion, the fear and pain mixed within him, fueling his rage. He knew that Brund was forcing him into a situation where for once, he did not have the upper hand. And he didn't care. No one, not an elf, not an Imperial, not even his father had caused him this much sorrow and grief. And only now did he finally truly understand how Rebec must've felt the day she'd lost Jala. The tears swelled in his eyes, bursting forth once more like water from newly melted icecaps. Slow at first before gaining more and more strength, just as Brund seemed to be as time went on and his yelling continued. He seemed completely unperturbed by Baldur's pain and what he'd done. Didn't seem to understand the gravity of it. How could he? "I'm going to do my best to make you suffer. I'll tear you apart by the fabric of your very being, down to the smallest level. And even then you'd not feel the way I feel. And for that, I curse you! Even in death, I curse you to suffer until it equates to what I feel now! Brund Hammer-Fang, I hate you!!" With that declaration, Baldur gave his own battlecry. At first, Brund had heard nothing at all, but a slight ringing noise. Then the ringing grew louder, and louder, until he realized that what he was hearing was so intense that his ears could not register it... Moments later after his ears adjusted, and he could finally pick up the sharp screeching, Brund panicked, grabbing his head as blood leaked from his earlobe. His vision was blurred and his balance once again thrown off. By the time Baldur was done, Brund was seeing double. So when Baldur cried, "Yol, TOOR!" sending a fireball where he stood, Brund could do nothing but wait until it was close before sending a mound of snow and earth hurtling towards it to protect himself. As the two thu'ums collided, clouds gathered in the sky, blocking the view of the stars and the moons. As if Kyne herself did not wish for the spectacle of her children's death to be seen by those faithless cowards that fled, or her dead husband who made their deaths a part of his purpose. The Greybeards sat still as stone through it all, chanting to their gods for a worthy outcome. The duel for the seat, had finally begun. *** With every shout Brund sent against him, Baldur could feel the intensity of his hatred, like a dense fog thickening more and more, threatening to swallow him up forever. His own hatred acted like a beacon, keeping him above it all as fire and stone clashed. The explosions sent bits of rock flying everywhere, occasionally peppering his cheek. "Fus, Gol... STRUNMAH!" This time Brund did not send earth directly at Baldur. Instead, Alfr Vega raised high above his head before it came crashing down, smashing the earth and sending a wave of snow and rock in Baldur's direction. It was too quick for Baldur to avoid by running. Instead, he used his thu'um to propel himself and jump over it. This was a mistake. Brund remembered from the battle of Windhelm that Baldur was fond of this. The minute Baldur launched himself in the air, Brund leaped for him, seeking to cleave him in two as Baldur fell. Their weapons met, as all he could do was try and block his attack. He was lucky not to be disarmed as Brund swatted him away like a fly, cutting him at his hip. The wound was shallow, but Brund was the first to draw blood. Baldur recovered quickly after his body was done ragdolling through the snow. Quickly enough to dodge Brund's follow up with a downward strike from his ancient Nord pendulum. It followed Baldur as he continued rolling away, screeching against the ice and rock. He stopped, brought his axe down on the weapon and attempted to yank it from Brund's grasp. Brund slapped his axe out of the way, but Baldur brought the other down as well, catching the wooden poll in his axe's undergroove. Up on his feet now, Baldur used the opportunity to try and take Brund's head off. Brund had to let go of Alfr Vega to avoid it, though Baldur managed to cut his cheek and nose. With his freed hands, Brund punched Baldur in the gut so hard his feet left the ground, leaving him winded and gasping for air. With a mighty roar, Brund grabbed his hammer from its sling and once again swung downwards, once again forcing Baldur to parry. He had Baldur pinned now, and was leaning close enough that he could smell his breath. "This is familiar isn't it? Remember. Solitude? Our wager? Daric was fighting my student. Funny, that. You look just like him now. Pathetic. Weak. Hehehehehahahaha!" "I remember winning that wager." "Well allow me to correct history!" said Brund. Baldur got a real close look at the blood on his hammer as its spikes inched nearer and nearer to his eyes. Before that could happen, Baldur let loose Yol Toor Shul, forcing Brund away. He followed up with a fireball that sent Brund flying on his back, but before Baldur could capitalize, Brund shouted boulder after boulder at him as he pounded the ground with his feet. Baldur dodged what he could, but had to use his thu'um to destroy what got too close. All the while trying to keep his balance. Something else was distracting him as well. Brund's chest began emitting a low green light... Suddenly, Brund let out another roar and before Baldur knew it, he disappeared entirely... Before he could realize what happened, an explosion of earth beneath his feet shot him six eight feet off the ground before Brund smothered him with as much earth as his thu'um could muster. The ground was hard, and cold. He was working extra hard to perform, but even so it was proving overwhelming for Baldur. As he stood atop of him, Brund said, "This looks like a good place to bury you, eh Red-Snow!?" For a minute, Brund almost thought he'd killed him right then and there. But then steam began to rise from beneath his feet, and the snow began to glow... He jumped away just in time as flame burst forth in a hellish display. Baldur's arm shot out afterwards, and then another. Before he even climbed out fully, Baldur shot his thu'um in Brund's direction once again. And again. And again. He didn't stop until he could feel burning in his throat. Brund timed the moments between his shouts to send his own thu'um at him, but before it hit him, Baldur's Yol Toor Shul sent a boulder flying straight into Brund's chest. He could do nothing but try to stop it with his bare hands. And he did. In fact, he caught the thing! Or rather, it caught him, hurtling away until Brund went flying into Paarthurnax's word wall. Baldur paced slowly, taking the time to breathe, recover his stamina. Meanwhile Brund was climbing out of a pile of rubble. The word wall stood right where it was however. "Yol Toor Shul!" cried Baldur, just as Brund once again disappeared underground. The Thu'um missed him entirely, leaving behind its three words bright against the stone slab just as it had once for the Dragonborn of legend. Baldur hopped around on his feet, feeling Brund burrow beneath him, albeit rather slowly. Even so, he could never be too sure of where exactly he was. "I have to wonder if you were smart enough to pick High Hrothgar knowing my thu'um would be difficult to use here in this hard terrain. No matter, you're still gonna die!" said Brund, his voice loud enough to echo through the ground. Eventually Baldur found himself falling below ground level, revealing the tunneling Brund had just done. Baldur and Brund clashed once again, their struggle unseen by those above ground. Before too long, fire began bursting through the cracks before both he and Baldur were launched up to the surface from the fiery explosion. They both landed heavily on their backs, not moving. Exhausted. "For ****'s sake. Just die already!" said Brund as he slowly stood. "You first," said Baldur. "I'm already dead!" said Brund with a big open mouthed smile, as he struggled to catch his breath. "It's your turn now!" Brund stretched open his arms and began chanting in the dragon language. Earth and snow gathered above his head, growing in size before Baldur at an alarming rate. While this went on, Brund's chest began to glow even brighter. Baldur was dumbfounded. How on Nirn did Brund gain such strength? Was this the gods punishing him? "Haha! Now you see don't you? I am a god!" Baldur attempted to thu'um him down, but Brund used the earth to protect him, raising up a barrier around him while whatever he was preparing grew more and more. "Now's the time to try it Baldur... either this works, or he's gonna crush me to bits...." Taking several deep breaths, Baldur waved his arms once more in the Greybeard way before finding himself on his knees in meditation. He silenced his mind as best he could, ignoring the rock and rubble flying past him to Brund's great rock. Ignoring the rumbling of the ground beneath them. Ignoring all but the void of his inner thoughts. "Tiiiiiiinvaak. Onikaaaaaan.... UTH!" The earth continued to shake and rattle, giving into the artificial gravity Brund seemed to be creating above his head. Even Baldur was feeling its pull, his hair whipping in the wind, blinding his sight and extinguishing the flame. Even as the ground began to give away beneath him, pulled towards the sky, Baldur stood firm. Eyes closed in concentration. "FUNT. SAHLO. Failure. Weak." Brand heard Baldur's words echoing in his head.... Brund, who was laughing hysterically from the rush of his own power began to sweat and groan in agony as he felt Baldur's thu'um once again. His neck veins were fit to burst from all the strain, his teeth rattled and gritted as they clenched. You are too weak, you know I'm right. Even as you are now, you will fail. Just as you always have. Let go of your burden. It is too heavy for you. The laws of Nirn demand it be released. Let it fall. Be free of this great effort and give in to your true nature. That of the failure. All of this conflict is the direct result of someone trying to deny what they are. Don't resist my logic. It is ironclad. "**** YOU, RED-SNOW! I WILL WIN! I-" Brund fell to a knee as he held his hands to the sky. Even the ground beneath him was buckling from the weight. What was effortless before now demanded a level of concentration he could not accomplish, certainly not with Baldur bombarding his defenses with fireballs, which were now beginning to give in as well. "****...****....**** **** **** **** ****! ******* minstrel!!" Brund was resisting far longer than Baldur had expected. Perhaps it was because he'd been exposed to it before. Anticipated it. In any case, Baldur continued taunting him, feeding off of Brund's insecurities and doubt. If his grudge was so powerful against he and his father, seemingly for thinking they were better, then Brund's insecurities must've been just as great, despite the confidence. And Baldur knew that, because the same was true for himself. And even so, Brund still held firm. The two cried out under the strain of mental effort, their voices mixing and clashing in the air, amplifying one another until the air was heavy from it. Snow and rock shook free on the lower levels of High Hrothgar, the trolls and wolves running desperately to find shelter. "Hahahahaha! I told you, I would not fail!" said Brund. Triumphant in his victory over whatever Baldur was attempting to do to his head. The great rock above him began to lower as Brund got ready for his final assault. Baldur fell to his knees, unsure of what to do next. The perspiration on his brow was thick, his body exhausted and his throat so sore it was getting difficult to breathe. There was nothing left to do... "No. By the gods it can't end like this... I don't accept it!" said Baldur. "Accept it or not, you're still gonna die you piece of sh-" Before Brund could finish, both he and Baldur heard a great crack, followed by bits of rock and snow falling on Brund's head. Brund looked up with a look on his face that Baldur had never seen on him before... fear. At that very moment, the great buildup of earth the size of several taverns that Brund created gave away, falling right on top of him before he could take even a single step out of its way. The mass behind it was abnormal, even for that much earth, knocking Baldur to the ground as soon as it made contact. No one could survive that, surely, he thought. Not even a mountain of a man like Brund... "Who am I kidding," said Baldur, half covered in snow from the impact. He wouldn't be satisfied until he saw Brund's body dead before him. He stood to his feet, leg muscles tensing from the effort. His body was weary, but not broken. His spirit, still strong. Defiant. Brund would attempt to change that. Brund could not be seen, but he could be heard. His same draconic chanting echoed all around him, and the earth vibrated, danced as though it were music. It was as though it were alive. Before he knew it, the loose snow and rock took the shape of two creatures Baldur could only assume were atronachs of Brund's own creation, spinning around glowing green cores that had their own gravitational pulls, the same as what Brund had tried to create earlier. Against these, Baldur had no defense. His thu'um failed him, and he could not dodge their blows for much longer. One grabbed his arm, as did the other, and attempted to pull the High-King apart, literally limb from limb. Baldur could do nothing but resist, and to try his thu'um once more... But would Brund hear it? So far underground? It wasn't worth risking the loss of energy. Instead Baldur mustered what energy he had left, shouting Yol, Toor at the creature on his left. The fireball hit the spinning rocks, but the core remained in tact. But it was enough to free an arm. Before he could shout again, the other formed what looked like a fist made of stone and sent the Nord flying into the dirt, where Brund burst from, grabbing his leg. Brund came up yelling like a wounded animal, covered in scratches, bruises and blood. His armor had ceased to cover his left arm and the top of his chest. Enough that Baldur could see the steel fused into his chest where the green light had been shining from, albeit far dimmer than before. Brund swung Baldur around like a ragdoll before attempting to slam him face first. "Yol Toor Shul!" cried Baldur, keeping himself from having his skull smashed. At the same time he kicked himself free from Brund's grasp, punching him twice, so hard that teeth and blood flew from his mouth. Brund caught the next punch, and attempted to deliver his own, but Baldur caught it as well. Their hands locked as the two attempted to overpower one another fruitlessly, their voices once again shaking the air around them. Brund ended the contest with a swift knee to Baldur's gut before running towards his back. He had Baldur lifted from his feet as his arm locked around his neck, slowly chocking the life from him. "I wish your wife were here to see this... to see you for the bitch you are. Go to sleep, little bitch. Go to sleep..." said Brund. Baldur did not sleep. Instead he pulled at Brund's arm until he could speak, and used the brief opportunity to shout. The power of his thu'um propelled both he and Brund back, sending Brund crashing backwards into the ground. As Brund was recovering, Baldur attempted to crawl away and reach his axe.. Just as his fingers wrapped around the fine Skyforge Steel hilt, Baldur felt Brund's hands on him, pulling him away. Baldur turned to his back and kicked him in his groin, then chin as he rolled away. "YOL, TOOR SHUL!" "FUS, GOL, STRUNMAH!" Snow and rock collided with a stream of flame, propelling fragments at dangerous velocity from the fantastic collision that brightened the night sky. The intensity of the heat mingled with the cold air, darkening the clouds above until thunder from their shouts was not the only present. Neither could maintain this level of power for long, and the shouting soon ceased. But when it had, Brund was no longer there. "Surprise, you *****," said Brund as he burst through the ground once again, lifting Baldur in the air by his neck. Brund wasn't smiling however, as he eyed his surroundings. Nothing but rock and snow, and Greybeards. And Veleda... but that was too risky. "It's too bad I have to end this now, but I burned far more energy than I expected thanks to you. Even if I win this duel, I might die before I even reach the bottom of this mountain. You bring this on yourself, though I take great pleasure, in doing it. Goodbye, Baldur." “Fus Gol Strunmah, Dinok Wuth Zah, Zaami! Fus Gol Strunmah, Dinok Wuth Zah, Zaami!” Baldur let out a cry that couldn't have been matched by any man no matter what the torture as he felt his life force literally being eroded away from his body. It was as though every cell were slowly being stabbed... his hair began to turn dull, his skin, greyed. His beard had even grown as though the years had suddenly finally caught up to him. His wails had the same effect as they'd had before, worse even, but Brund was too close to victory. No way would he stop now. Never. It was almost sad, he thought. Seeing his rival so strong, so proud now whither away into nothing. But everybody dies. He watched as the process continued its wretched work, feeling his power slowly return to him, his wounds tingling, burning as they began to heal. Baldur was still struggling. How cute, he thought. He even attempted to mouth the words. "Go on, say it Baldur. Try!" "Yol. Toor. Shul," said Baldur, who now appeared to be approaching his early fifties and was still climbing. His thu'um was pathetic! Laughable! Little flames danced from his mouth like leaves blown away by a mighty wind. Brund laughed in his face at the pathetic display as his hands dropped to his side and he gave in to Brund's might. "This is how you avenge your son? Your elf? Do you know how slow his death was? The way he cried for you as I was ripping out his lungs? You know what I'll do to Rebec in your absence? And this is all the fight you can muster? Look at you! Dying like a little bitch! Like- AHHHH!" Those would be Brund's last words, ever. Those pathetic little flames Brund laughed at were the same flames Baldur used to summon to perform his candle trick. They were all he could summon in his weakened state. But instead of candles, they found the tips of his fingers, and the tips of his fingers found Brund's throat. They squeezed, and squeezed, burning through his flesh until Baldur's hand had a hold of his throat so strong Brund could not remove it. Brund let go of Baldur and Baldur slammed his head into the ground as he continued to squeeze. Brund had suddenly found himself without his thu'um. Permanently. However, his ridiculous strength still remained, and he demonstrated this by punching Baldur again in the gut so hard he coughed blood while Brund scurried away. The sound of his gurgling attempts to speak was enough to turn Baldur's stomach. But not enough to prevent him from finishing what he'd set out to do. He had no idea what Brund had done to him, but he could still lift his axe. And Brund could still brandish his hammer. They ran towards one another, Brund with revitalized vigor, but without his thu'um. Baldur without vigor, but the will to live. He put his training to work, letting his instincts and muscle memory move his body instead of his present mind. His years of fighting read Brund's body language, letting him know how to avoid his swings. He calmed his mind, ignoring the hatred that Brund so easily summoned in him. Just like on the battlefield with countless enemies before, this was when Baldur was most dangerous. Brund grew more and more frustrated as the old man before him continued avoiding his swings, taking light strikes at his legs and arms where he could. But Baldur was losing ground, being pushed towards the peak of the mountain, being forced upwards where he'd have nowhere left to go, but into his hammer. The two fought and climbed. Brund's hammer nearly caught him square in the face, sending pebbles nearly into his eyes as Baldur moved his head out the way and as rock was pulverized by Brund's hammer. The spikes scraped off his plated shoulders as he continued his ascent from his enemy. He was slower, but used Yol to position Brund where he needed to, swinging his axe exactly where Brund moved to avoid the flame, and the skyforge steel caught him first in his head, knocking the Jagged Crown from his ugly mug, then right in the chest, creating a wound diagonally across and exposing the source of the light at the top... Baldur's eyes widened at what he'd seen. "Is that... what have you done to yourself?!" Brund answered him with more gurgled words and swings from his hammer. As the two approached a ledge near the very height of the mountain, Brund began smashing his hammer again and again into the ground. His strength was not nearly as great as it was before, but the damage from the earlier battle had done its work. Both their battle and the Dragonborn's with Alduin had weakened the foundations of the earth they stood on. And by the time Brund was done, the rocky ledge they stood on finally gave away. And as it fell, so did they, crashing onto the edge of the peak beneath them, and the weight of the rock also causing the stone below to give away as well. The end result, Baldur and Brund were falling off the side of High Hrothgar, with nothing but the bit of mountain under them keeping them from being splattered against the mountainside. Brund may not have been able to speak, but seeing the fear in Baldur's eyes was enough to make him laugh, even despite the great pain. Even as they fell, bouncing and sliding off the surface of the mountain, Brund still tried to kill his rival. Baldur was clinging to the rock and to what remained of his life when Brund's Hammer-Fang went straight into his arm, leaving it hanging useless at his side. Brund wrenched it free and was about to bring it down again for another swing when Baldur jumped up and cried, "Yol Toor Shul!" This time Brund had nowhere to go, his whole body covered from head to toe, burning him as bright as the effigy of King Olaf in Solitude in the night air. Brund lost his footing then as their bit of rock ramped off of another beneath them, sending them up in the air in a free fall as the rock's greater weight slowly pulled it away from their grasp. This was just like in Hammerfell when the harpies had nabbed he and Menel, Baldur realized. That memory pained him almost as much as knowing that he was most surely going to die. But if he was going to die, he was going to kill Brund first. He had one more shout in him, and he used that last shout to propel himself straight into Brund who was getting further and further away from him. He speared himself straight at his middle, and even now as they were falling to their deaths, an avalanche beneath them, waiting to put them in their icy tomb, Brund still would not give in. Baldur had a hard time of it with only one good arm, but he clawed and bit, even taking off one of Brund's fingers until the defiant minstrel found his target. His hand shot deep into Brund's cavity, forcing his hand between the gap above the infused steel plate and the rest of his flesh. Brund grabbed Baldur's shoulders, refusing to let go, even as Baldur once again bit him, ripping flesh from his neck. If he could still speak, he'd probably say, "Stop biting me you fu***** cu**!" But he could not, nor could he adequately grip Baldur with missing fingers as his boot pushed against his chest. "I'll see you in Sovngarde, you son of a whore. And I'll beat you there too, for all of eternity." "Noooo!" cried Brund as best he could, but there was nothing he could do. Baldur wrenched his heart free from his chest, and the release of energy and the explosion that followed did the rest. A heartless Brund was shot away like a rock in a sling, falling into the side of the Throat of the World, with Baldur not too far behind him. As Baldur neared the same fate, the ground growing closer, his vision began to fail him, and the dark of night soon grew until there was nothing to be seen at all. Not even the powerful glow of the briarheart in his hand as its spiky outer casing pierced his hand. Tears trailed behind him as he thought of the wife and child he was leaving behind. "You know... I never wanted to go away But what am I supposed to say? Rebec... I beg you. Please, forgive me. I love you so much, and I always will.... Forgive me..." The last thing he saw before his vision disappeared completely, was a giant hawk rushing past him like that of his dream. The power of its flapping wings, and the dive towards the ground nearly sent him spinning downwards. And from below, the great and terrible open mouth of a snake, swallowing him whole. "Pruzah, Ashen One... Well done."
  2. 4 points
    The Moot Of all the Jarls that found their way up to High Hrothgar, none of them stood out more than young Elisif, not even Fenrald, one of the newest of the lot. Aside from her husband to be and Baldur of course, both who were still absent. Her ascent was easy enough, though not as quick as the others and taking her nearly three days. Climbing the 7000 steps wasn't so bad when all the capable warriors before her already cleared the way. She even overheard Vignar bragging about his frost troll kill. His booming raspy voice guided her to the table of the Greybeards where she'd sat only a few years before, with the fabled and terrible Dragonborn of the Stormcloaks. The Greybeards stood like silent sentinels, never speaking but always listening. Even so, remembering the young woman from her last visit greeted her with only a simple gesture, a wave of their arms, opening then closing as their hands were brought back together. "Such gentlemen you are," she commented, even managing to work up a smile. That was even harder than her first climb. After the night she had... Brund was gracious enough to allow her to come alone, claiming he was exhausted and needed his rest. She was not only exhausted but forever scarred. After his appetites were sated, she didn't even recognize her own reflection in her mirror. It was as if a whole winter had come and gone, leaving evidence of its passing on her skin. She knew a night alone with Brund would be trying, but never as trying as that. His smell, the smell of sweat and death. And the air about him... cold... wrong... She tried her best to ignore the memories... Before she stepped into the room where the fate of Skyrim, of Tamriel would once again be decided, there was a lot of chatter, even laughter. But the room grew eerily quiet as she stepped inside with the two Solitude guardsmen accompanying her. Even with two guardsmen, armed to the teeth with sword and shield, bow and arrow, dagger and axe, and her, with her own axe of Solitude, a wolven design with rubies for the eyes, and her thick red dress, golden trimmings and reddish brown wolf fur and ruby studded circlet... All of it seemed to disappear before the gaze of the other Jarls of Skyrim, who clearly detested her presence nearly as much as they did the foreigners that also were counted as guests. She studied the layout. The Jarl of Falkreath sat opposite of... she wasn't actually sure who this man was. He was no Jarl certainly though he seemed vaguely familiar. Looking further she noticed that she did not see Skald the Elder. A stand in perhaps. The Jarl of Morthal sat beside Fenrald, then there was an empty seat, two of them. Those must've been for her and Brund, the "Demon Chieftain of the Reach" as he was so aptly being called. On the far side where she walked past was a seat reserved for Baldur she imagined, as Arngeir himself was standing behind that seat. He greeted her with a smile and a gesture to be seated. He was the only kind face in the whole room thus far. Maven Black-Briar... no, she's far too young to be Maven. She had a daughter, Elisif was sure of this.... Ingun. Elisif heard briefly that the Rift had found a new Jarl in her. She sat next to the seat closest to Baldur's spot. Then there was Vignar, and finally Korir. Behind them all in the back of the room sat Baldur's guests. Prince Roland she recognized immediately, but she avoided eye contact with the Bretons entirely and simply took her seat. The sooner this moot could begin, the better in her mind. She was too lost in thought of her husband to care what the others spoke of. Sorrow and loneliness was heavy in her expression, accentuated by the shadows cast from the braziers of the Greybeards that never went out and thankfully gave more heat than what would be normally possible. In the fire she saw him, Torygg. But she couldn't quite make out his face. All she saw was Ulfric cutting him down. That was the only thing she could see of him now. And soon, even this faded, burned away. Replaced with the image of Brund, smiling with disgusting delight, and sucking his teeth before making her his. She got lost in the visions that the fire showed. Even when the Empress of Cyrodiil herself approached, she did not seem to take notice. Dales Draconus bore herself with...a strangeness. She didn't walk like a lady of the court, more like a predator, panther-like. Her honey hair was loose and out, though she didn't bother to tend to it. She wore a complicated black and red dress done in a Colovian style alongside a chest piece that went with her dress and an armored corset, glowing silver, though she was almost completely bare when it came to jewelry, only wearing her sigit ring...and the amulet that...thing had gifted to her. She had soon come to the revelation only she could see it, so she didn't have to worry about offending the Jarls, for she knew they no doubt disliked symbols of elven gods. She was certainly very striking, and her face was very pretty, but...her blue, chilling eyes, the dark bags that hid underneath her eyes, deathly pale skin, and icy stare certainly marred that beauty. On her belt, she wore a plain silver imperial styled gladius, which she kept on her right side. The young Empress, however was awe struck, though she kept it underneath of a mask of stoicism. What...a lovely creature... Her hair was golden. And her frame lithe. A perfect body. Her eyes were as deep as an oceans. The monarch of the Empire had heard stories of Elisif's beauty, but in person, she was absolutely radiant. She would be perfect, if not for the dark shadow that hung over her. Dales could practically feel it. Perhaps the approach of the Dragon would be less suitable here? Instead, Dales put on a warm smile, dispelling her previous dark look. She said, in a gentle voice, "Jarl Elisif?" Elisif almost jumped, so out of it was she. Quickly gaining her composure she said, "Empress Motierre, right? Or is it Draconus nowadays? It's a pleasure to meet you. Here, have a seat by me until Brund arrives." "The pleasure is mine, milady." Dales said, her voice warm. "Draconus. Please, call me Dales." The small Breton took a seat beside the former high-queen. She'll probably be voting Brund then...She spoke in a friendly, though quiet tone of voice. "I've heard from people about your radiance, though in person, the words can't compare." She complemented her. "I hope the journey up the mountain was pleasant. Me and the future High King's journey was assailed by a blizzard." Good. "I hope you fared well?" she asked. She was blushing a bit from being complimented so strongly and out of the blue. She was sure some of the Jarls overheard, but paid them no mind. "My trip was straightforward, no beasts assaulted me or my guards. Truth be told, I've never seen any. Some claim Kynareth sends them to test pilgrims." "We ran into some kind of beast. Baldur told me it was a yeti, but I asked Arngeir about it, and apparently yetis don't exist!" She lightly chuckled, "I guess it was some kind of ice troll. Nasty beast. Baldur's axe and my flame magic set it straight though!" "What, no thu'um action? Hmph, I'm surprised he doesn't show that off every chance he gets," said Elisif. "I imagine he probably uses it to kill pests, or to dispose of his child's soiled cloth." Elisif chuckled at the thought. "I'm sorry, that was beneath me. I'm not a big fan of your friend, but I harbor no ill feelings towards you, Empress. I mean, Dales." "Isn't foul language beneath the fabled golden lady of Solitude?" Dales gave her a wink, and a slight nudge as she said, "We're both girls, feel free to speak how you want around me milady. Baldur can be a little hard to tolerate with all his horrible singing, but he has a good heart." She grinned. Poor girl… Elisif was taken aback by that, and of course felt for the obvious ploy hook, line, and sinker. "I never thought I'd hear anyone utter the same sentiment. Though there once was a time I enjoyed it, it quickly got old. Aside from that, he helped Ulfric find the woman they'd use to supplant my position and to use their marriage as an excuse to steal my holds wealth for his own. I used to think he was my friend, and understood what I went through. But he was only playing me. Where others see an 'Ash-King' or such rubbish, a great bear of a man, or a cunning fox, all I see is a viper with a forked tongue." "Baldur's a Lord of Cinder. Fire bends to his voice, and he breathed upon the attacking Dominion foes with flame ordained by Kyne. Or so they say." Dales said, keeping the friendly expression, but her voice was a little harder, "Snakes are often known as imperfect dragons, so perhaps a serpent fits him. Though I consider serpents noble animals, they control the rodent population after all, and the Akaviri Potentate were great statesmen, and respected figures of the Imperial Court." "And what would they know anyway when they can't even agree upon Kynareth's name," said Elisif. "I don't care about his thu'um, I saw plenty of Ulfric's to know that magic abilities do not make a man true or righteous like their men would have you believe. They are not the Grey Beards. Only they I trust to wield the thu'um responsibly. That is to say, not at all." She's very bitter towards Baldur. I wonder what he did to her... Dales simply smiled in response, " I agree to an extent. Not about Baldur and the voice, of course, but the sentiment in general, I've seen men immolated by flame spells, and icicles used as pincushions. Magic is simply a tool to be used. For noble reasons or evil reasons." Before she continued, she noticed the wide open door, and the fact a few people were still missing. This gave her a rare opportunity. Dales sat up, saying, "The moot seemingly won't begin for a little while. Care to take a walk with me, milady, down the stone halls? Stretch the legs, before the long discussions begin?" The young Empress offered her gloved hand to the Jarl. Elisif almost took her hand, but then a thought occurred to her... Smiling, Elisif said, "Empress Dales, even here in Skyrim your reputation precedes you. I'm sorry but this is neither the time nor the place. And no offense, but I couldn't be seen by the others walking away alone with the Empress of Cyrodiil, the very one known for aiding the Thalmor once upon a time. I do not hold it against you, but politics are what they are. It would hurt Brund's chances. I've had to grow wise in these last few years. At least a little." "You wound me. If what I think you are accusing me of trying to do, I can assure you, I would never think to do such a thing. " A dark rage filled inside her head, telling the girl to draw her gladius and rip it through her stomach, but she shoved it deep within in her. Dales, skillful not to show it, forced a small smile, "What you've heard about me is no doubt mired in many rumors." Elisif placed her hands on hers, whispering. "Even so, love, rumors are quite dangerous. Rumors, whispers and lies are the reason even men in my own hold believe Baldur is this 'Ash-King'. Rumors can make or break anyone. Even a king. Or queen. Please believe me when I say I truly meant you no offense, but this moot is very important to me. I shall not risk sabotaging my interests. But if you linger in Skyrim afterwards, I'd be happy to entertain you on the way to Solitude, and in the Blue Palace." "I've actually been to Solitude once before." She sat down finally, seeing her offer rejected. Dales honestly felt...somewhat hurt. Was that what she was to foreign royalty? A predator? The Empress...could be a leech, but the prospect of forcing a woman to give her body...felt so disgusting to the Empress, she could barely restrain herself from shaking with anger. The young Empress gazed into the Jarl's eyes, "I was only a girl though. My mother was visiting a friend. And my father was on business.” The Empress closed her eyes, "The only thing I really remember is the sound of the blue waves in the ocean, swishing and swashy, as I looked, from the top of an East Empire Company warehouse. Do you like the ocean, milady?" "Solitude overlooks the sea, but I confess I've never enjoyed it, or being on boats. I always feared one day the strange land formation Solitude was built on would give away to the weight and the sea would swallow the Blue Palace whole... I had quite a few nightmares about it actually. Torygg used to say I was being a silly girl. He wasn't afraid of anything back then..." The thought of Torygg brought her thoughts to her task... "Empress Dales, I fear that Brund may come in at any moment. I am very sorry but I must ask that you not be in his seat any longer. Again, I truly mean no offense, and I promise to make it up to you when this whole ordeal is over. I could use a friend." "Of course. We may be opposed today, but I do hope you know you have someone to talk to." The Empress gave her a warm smile. A genuine one, the dark malice that wanted to take over gone. "If all goes well, I shall take you up on your offer. You shall give me a tour of the blue palace, and all the splendor I have forgotten." Dales got out of her seat, and whispered, "Until another day, my lady." "Hopefully soon," she said genuinely. She thought to speak then to the Bretons, perhaps one last chance to try and persuade Baldur's supporters. But alas, she thought better of it. Embarrassing herself in front of them once was more than enough. These people climbed the 7000 steps to support him. Words alone weren't going to change their minds now. *** As the day pressed on and both Brund and Baldur still had yet to arrive, some of the Jarls began to grow impatient just waiting at the table. It was only minutes after the arrival of Elisif that Fenrald decided that he was going to 'take a walk', though almost an hour later he had yet to return. During that time, Vignar and Ingun got up to go and speak in private as well, promising to remain close in case they were needed. At one point, Korir thought to ask one of the Greybeards if they kept drinks, though Arngeir had told him days ago that they did not. Perhaps he'd hoped that one of the silent ones might've kept a stash of his own. From that point on, he appeared rather sour. Some time later, Ingun returned alone. "Where's the old man?" asked Sorli. "He is in a side chamber just down the hall," she answered. "He found a book to read." "And Fenrald?" Ingun shrugged. "Didn't see him." "Great." Sorli got up and walked out, stopping just to glance back at the Redguards, then the Imperials. "We know who you lot are here for. Something better not have happened to him. For your sake and Baldur's." On that note, she made her exit. The Empress trailed from one part of the room to the next. The Empress was...beginning to worry. She's obviously afraid of Brund. She doesn't want to help him, but she see's no choice. A well meaning girl in way over her head. The Empress sadly smiled to herself. Reminds me of someone. She dispelled thoughts of the fair, golden haired Jarl, and went back to the Moot. She would support Brund, meaning Brund already had two votes. Going by the angry scowls a few of the Jarls were giving her, that might rise soon. Baldur talked too much, but it was his gift. His way of words. Without that tongue, he would be severely handicapped in the coming debates. The Greybeards claim to give him their support, yet they do this. Maybe Badur was right about them. She scanned the room, analysing it. The foreign leaders here would no doubt be an advantage to him, showing how many foreign powers would be at his side, but that was double edged sword. No doubt they resented the mere fact they were here in sacred Nordic ground. Especially her. The young Empress decided to go for a walk. It would do no good worrying about this. She had faith that Baldur could pull it off. If he couldn't...well. There was always option two The Empress walked down the hallways of the ancient Nordic temple. A few minutes later, she spotted someone in a side chamber, reading a large dusty tome. Jarl Vignar Grey-Mane, if she recalled. Him being by himself, meant he might be a little more open to her. Perhaps it was best to see we're he sat in all this. The Empress approached the elderly Jarl, saying in stern, yet no unfriendly voice. These people understood only steel, and iron, "Jarl Greymane?" A moment passed as Vignar found a point where he could stop. "The Songs of the Return. I would not have expected to find the full saga here, of all places." The elderly Jarl of Whiterun looked up and studied her. "The Companions' story is a glorious one, and also violent, bloody. Not something that I'd have thought welcome in the Greybeards' halls of peace." He set the tome aside, leaving it open on the stone window nook. "What do you want, Empress?" "I found a book detailing gory encounters with frost trolls, and other bestiary's of Skyrim a few days ago. I suppose people leave offerings of various literature to the Greybeards. Can't be selective with you're readings when you're so secluded and can't get you're books from someplace else." She said, "Making small talk? I've never had the honor of meeting you, Jarl." She strode into the room. "No, you haven't." Vignar folded his arms. "If it's small talk you want, then there are six other Jarls out there who might be better for it." "Perhaps we started on the wrong foot." Dales said with an apologetic smile, "Dales Draconus, of Cyrodiil." She offered her hand forward. The Jarl did not move. "I'm an honest man, Empress Draconus. But I wouldn't be if I shook a hand that once held a Thalmor pen." Second time now. This is going to be a long day... "Perhaps you forget it was also my hand, that held my blade, that slit my father's throat, and expelled the Dominion from Cyrodiil. And restored the open worship of Talos throughout my lands." She said sharply. "I have not forgotten," he replied solemnly, "which is why I have abided Baldur's decision to invite you here in the first place." She dropped her hand, "I will never forget my past. Nor will many people I can imagine," her cold blue eyes becoming melancholic, "Or the suffering I surely caused with my signature. But the past is the past. I can't change what I did back then. But I can make sure the future is better for the my people. That's all that really matters now. And I think we both surely agree, the Empire, and Whiterun's well-being is tied to if Baldur wins the moot or not." "On that, we do agree," the old man said. "And we are not alone. None of us knew this Brund Hammer-Fang until recently, but what little we've heard has been worrisome. The man surrounds himself with marauders and cutthroats, and Markarth has been troublingly quiet since his last victory against the Forsworn." "Brund was not born into his role of Jarl?" She took a seat beside the old man, "Did he have a previous military record before hand? Baldur...did not have the chance to give me any details of his opponent." "Until recently, Thongvor Silver-Blood was Jarl of the Reach. I do not know how Brund came to inherit his position, but he now controls the wealth of Cidhna Mine so it must have been with Silver-Blood's blessing." Vignar shrugged. "And if he served in the army, word of his exploits never reached me." "That means he controls a large portion of Skyrim's wealth..." She breathed a sigh of disappointment, "A very good incentive to support him. I talked to the Jarl Solitude. For some reason, she intends to support this brute. Do you know any others who will be swayed by the promise of his silver?" "Sorli, no doubt." Vignar's wrinkly frown tightened into a scowl. "To this day I do not know what Ulfric saw in that woman. But aside from her and Elisif, I trust everyone at that table to stand by their convictions. The leaders of Skyrim are not your Elder Council. They will do what they believe to be right by their people." Well at least he's loyal to Baldur. "For all our sakes I hope you are right." She paused. Still looking uncertain, "Baldur is a hero to the common people. He was a war hero in the last invasion, highly favored by Ulfric, adored by the public, and has the backing of multiple foreign powers. To challenge him for the throne, a man you barely know, just makes me feel...wrong. Like we're missing something about this Brund. He's either very stupid, or very confident. Considering he made himself the Jarl of Skyrim's richest hold, i'll go for the later." "Not everyone is as impressed by you foreign powers as you might hope. I understand what Baldur has done here. He summoned you to show that he can, to prove that he alone commands enough respect to make all the kingdoms of man listen and do what he says. We will need that when we march south together against the elves." Vignar sighed. "But it is more complicated than that. I don't know about his brother, but Jarl Skald hates the Empire almost as much as he does the Thalmor. Fenrald might even hate them more. No amount of respect from you will convince them that Baldur should be king. It would not have been enough for me either, had my mind not already been made up." "I warned him my presence here might cause this kind of thing. But he insisted I come." She glumly said, "So by proxy, Fenrald will vote for Brund because Baldur has aligned himself so closely with us. That's a third vote, which dosen't include Brund's own one." She sighed, "Dangerous water. Is there anyone who you know is undecided we might be able to sway to Baldur's cause?" She gripped the invisible amulet of Auriel she wore on her neck. “I'm an old man," answered the Jarl, "and you're a foreign ruler. Convincing the others how to think before we hear them out is not our place." He shook his head. "In fact, I daresay it will do more harm than good. When the moot begins, I will say my piece and argue for it, as will Jarl Baldur. I have faith that his words will be enough to convince anyone who has yet to decide for themselves." "Perhaps you're right, Jarl Greymane. We'll leave it to Baldur's tongue to convince the others to do the right thing. And by the gods, hopefully all will be well." She got out of her seat, "Well, I'll see you at the Moot, Jarl Greymane. Thanks for the information." "Mhmm," Vignar grunted and then he turned away from her to reclaim his book. "Fair winds and all that." Dales stepped out of the room, dark thoughts entering her head. She was...less hopeful now of the chances of Baldur winning. She traced her hands around the gleaming amulet on her neck, and whispered, "If you truly do show me divine favor, Auriel, now is the time to show it!" "Pfft!" Dales looked over to find Jarls Sorli and Fenrald standing a little further into the hall. The two had been speaking quietly, but upon recognizing her, Fenrald made a point to raise his voice. "And speaking of those devils, here's their queen now." He looked equal parts angry and disgusted. "Baldur was wise to bring the moot here, where we cannot shed blood." "Shut up, Fenrald," Sorli muttered. "Save it for the moot." "Oh I'll have plenty more to say there, believe me." "Fenrald was it?" Dales said, a dark look appearing on her face, "Jarl of Falkreath. Threatening the guests of the Grey Beards in these sacred halls? Tsk tsk, do you now know you're own customs? Not that it matters anyways, I'm quite sure you would be dead a second before you drew your blade." "Did you hear that?" The Jarl laughed, though there was no trace of humor in it. He glanced at Sorli, who seemed increasingly uncomfortable. "My people don't flinch as the girl rains fire on our home, and she has the gall to think she's frightening!" Looking back at Dales, he said, "I didn't threaten you, Empress. If I do, it will be much clearer." "No, but you're Jarl surely did, when my old friend Lorgar Grim-Maw sent an arrow in his heart." Dales said, giving him a pleasant smile. The fake amusement drained from Fenrald's face, to be replaced by something stuck between excitement and hatred. "Lorgar Grim-Maw," he repeated back to her. "Perhaps it's a good thing Baldur invited you after all, Imperial, for that is something I never thought I would learn." "I'm glad I could be of some help, by telling you that dog killed him." She said, the smile still on her face, "Now if you'll excuse me good Jarl." She gave him a brief nod, before turning around to face his companion. She said, with a blank expression. "You must be Sorli, a pleasure." "That's right," she answered. "And you're the Empress everyone seems to hate." Before Sorli could say another word, a grimacing Fenrald muttered something and stormed off. "... Especially him." What a freak. And her. I can already tell she's a bitch. Dales kept the forced smile, "Hate is a very strong word. Perhaps, dislike is better? I'm sure you're a very respected Jarl." She said. "As respected as one can become when ruling a backwater hold like Hjaalmarch." Sorli shrugged. "Still, it's not all bad. We understand not to spit in the eyes of potential friends, for instance." "Of course, and are we potential friends, jarl?" Dales asked, "Or are you like the Jarl of Falkreath, who hates imperials with a burning passion." "Hating Imperials was healthy when we were at war," replied the Jarl. "Now? I don't see the point. You're not the ones who want to kill us." Need to be careful around her. If what Vignar said is true, then perhaps she's an opportunist. At the same time, if she's lying she can use my words as ammunition later. "Wise words. We are united against a common foe. Cooperation, I feel, will be the best way to defeat the Dominion in the coming months. Yet I hear you oppose Jarl Red-Snow." Dales asked, crossing her arms. Sorli's eyes narrowed. "Did Black-Briar tell you that? I don't oppose Red-Snow. Got nothing against the man. It just so happens that I've got no reason to love him either. Jarl Brund, on the other hand, has done much to convince me that Skyrim would prosper under his rule." “And what is that, if I may ask? I hear Jarl Brund has control over the wealthiest Hold in Skyrim. Do you worry about Skyrim's economy?" An idea was forming in her head. "Now I know you've been talking to Ingun," she muttered. "Whatever else that snake might've told you, it just so happens that I do care about our economy. And our safety. And I believe that Brund is best for both." **** it fine. Let's do it Dales! The Empress smile grew, "Perhaps we can, speak privately in one of these side chambers?" Dales was uneasy, but when the iron is hot, you need to jump. "I have a...proposition for you, if you're willing to hear me out?" "Oh?" Jarl Sorli's brow arched. "Well then, Empress, lead the way. I would never turn down a potential friend." *** Roland watched the the Jarls mingle and talk amongst themselves, a sense of ease about them that he did not personally feel. The Empress had that same air about her before she left the room, and his grandmother was almost apathetic in her demeanor. It had been Lady Gaerhart who suggested they stick to the periphery of the moot and not hound the Jarls. Roland was hesitant at first, but after seeing the Jarl of Falkreath come storming into the room after an argument with the Empress outside, he realized staying quiet was the wisest choice. Still, he was surprised at his own nerves. The nobles of High Rock did not make him feel like this. He'd grown up around them, though, and knew their false smiles and hidden glares like he knew the back of his hand. The Nords did not care for such tact, and whatever they lacked there they made up for tenfold with confidence. Even the newest Jarls, of Falkreath and Riften, seemed more suited to this moot than he did. It was something about the blunt Nordic manner, and the fact he was atop the world's tallest mountain, an unwanted foreign interloper, that made him feel so out of place. But with the practiced manners that was the culmination of his life's education, he greeted Jarl Korir of Winterhold, who had practically strutted over to the Bretons. "It's nice to meet you, Jarl Korir. I'm Prince Roland, and this is my grandmother, Lady Gaerhart, and our Lord Admiral, Duke Theirry." "Prince?" Jarl Korir looked disappointed. He then nodded to Duke Theirry. "I was just about to ask the man I thought to be your king how tough the climb was on a wooden leg." Duke Theirry flashed a smile and said, "Years at sea have given me a good sense of balance. The seas are much crueler than some icy steps." Lady Gaerhart, leaning over her ornate cane, gave a dismissive wave. "What he meant to say is that the litter they hauled me up here in moved slow enough he hardly climbed a mile a day. At that pace he needn't have any legs." Roland couldn't help but smile at the Duke's expense, but Theirry had the good nature to laugh as well. The Jarl, however, did not seem to appreciate the jest. "It is no small thing to make the climb M'lady, on two legs or ten. Your Admiral has proven stronger than the many who died trying the same." He regarded the wooden leg again. "Much stronger, I'd say." Roland took on a more serious tone and said, "My father knew which men and women to put his faith in. Duke Thierry has proven himself more than worthy of commanding our ships. Making this climb only reinforces that." "Thank you, Your Highness. And thank you, Jarl. Though, in truth, I had hoped to see High Admiral Red-Snow here," Thierry said. "When she and Jarl Red-Snow last visited our waters, they came upon some pirates. I made a concerted effort to rectify that problem, and was hoping I could show her the fruits of that labor." "He means the tattered pirate flags he captured," Lady Gaerhart explained. "Nice ornaments for the tavern in that new town of theirs. And proof High Rock means to carry its weight." "Fine ornaments indeed!" Korir grinned and clasped a large hand on Duke Theirry's shoulder, shaking it. "That is reassuring. It gives me faith that this alliance is not just talk, but something that can truly be done." His smile waned a little. "I must admit, I was not pleased at first to learn that you would be here. Nor those Redguards or Imperials. After I got over it, I found myself eager to meet the man who freed High Rock. Why couldn't your king make it?" Duke Theirry said, "Preparations for our war effort needed his attention." Roland frowned a little at the real reason, the Daedric plague eating away at his family, and said, "And we recently had a vassal who allied with the Thalmor to attempt to remove our family. That needed dealt with as well." "Truly?" The Nord's voice deepened with rage. "What kind of honorless cur would ally with the Thalmor even after they've been thrown back? Bah! The elves have poisoned our countrymen's minds. All the more reason why they must be crushed for good." "You'll find High Rock in agreement," Roland said and gave a small smile. "We look forward to heading south to fight the Thalmor alongside you Nords. Alongside High King Red-Snow. Are we in agreement on that as well?" "Red-Snow's victories do him credit," Korir replied, "But I don't know him, nor Brund neither. You'll find out if we're in agreement when I've heard the Jarls speak and measured their words and deeds myself." "For what my words are worth," Roland said, then put on his best self-depreciating smile. "And I know how little Nords think of us foreigners. But for what my words are worth, I think Skyrim would do well to choose Baldur. I would not think to tell you what is best for your people, but for all our people, we will need a man like Red-Snow leading all of us against the Thalmor." Unlike earlier, Roland felt much more at ease. Maybe it was falling back into the rhythm of politics that he knew so well from High Rock, but now he felt confident, and as if he was not so out of place here as he might've thought. "Well said, Roland! Why, I imagine your father couldn't have put it better." This was High King Joleen, of Hammerfell, sporting the warmest thing he could find before his trip, a large spotted cat fur over his shoulders, and a suit of chainmail over a dark blue doublet. "Sorry for butting in," said his son Jabreel. Running a hand through his long locks, he said, "Father often does this when no one is paying attention to him." "Quiet you," said Jeleen. "We just got bored looking for something good to eat around here is all. Why didn't anyone think to bring some worthy refreshments to a meeting of kings?" "Ha!" Korir's laugh came out as more of a bark. "I'm glad I'm not the only one. Half of Skyrim would give all they own to become a Greybeard, but I think most would take it back upon discovering that this place hasn't got a drop to drink!" The Jarl grinned. "Find me after the moot, Redguard. Whoever wins, we will celebrate Skyrim's new ruler in Ivarstead with meat and mead aplenty!" Korir stated to leave, and then looked back at Roland. "And worry not, Prince. Whether it is Baldur or Brund who bears the mantle of King, trust that the Jarls would not choose either if he lacked the strength to fight elves." With that, the Jarl of Winterhold lumbered off to rejoin his countrymen. "Good to know not all of the pale skins are stiff and grouchy! I was beginning to worry Baldur was the only Nord that knew how to smile! I like that one, what say we accept his invitation, Jabreel?" said Jeleen. "You like anyone that offers you food. It's amazing you haven't been poisoned yet." The Bretons all laughed at the joke, and Roland said, "It's been far too long, King Jeleen and Prince Jabreel. Your new titles suit you rather well, I'd say." "Butcher is the correct title for this one. He's got no sense of subtlety or tact," said Jeleen. "He's just mad that he didn't get to unite all of Hammerfell with the sweet honeysuckle dripping from his tongue. He was sure that he could convince the remaining stubborn kingdoms to fall under his banner. I wasn't." "And so my hot headed son decided to go and assassinate those kings instead. Any of them that opposed me, ruining all the hard work I'd put into diplomacy." "But it did work," added his son. "For now. An alliance built on blood will not last. But hopefully it will last long enough to defeat the elves. You still have much to learn my boy. But still, I am proud of you all the same." The young man tried to hide his smile, concealing it by flipping his dark brown locks. "Besides, assassination does take much subtlety and tact." "And do assassins also subtlety announce to the world their deeds? All of Hammerfell wonder now if you're in cahoots with the Dark Brotherhood, of all people! As do I..." said Jeleen, scratching his hairless chin. "If I were, they'd have already killed me for giving up my cover," said his son dismissively. Roland wasn't sure what to make of this. Nobles in High Rock didn't talk this openly about such tactics. He knew it unlikely one would ever admit to something as mundane as blackmail unless under duress, much less act so nonchalant about assassination. He dismissed those thoughts for now and grinned. "Well, should we ever need someone taken care of, I suppose I now know who to write to." "No, Roland, no you don't. Blasted Ra Gada, their over-confidence will be their undoing. Last thing you need, is an assassin that tells you of his kills. But, then, if Jabreel hadn't, then the last remaining kingdoms might not have been convinced of our strength. I envy these Nords. This moot, their politics. It seems far more simple." "Less bloody, anyway," added Jabreel. "My method was simple. Though, a moot of our own would be nice, if we could ever agree on anything other than we hate elves. Even that isn't always enough." "Their politics, and our own, led us to civil war. Thousands dead so we could achieve some sort of peace. I wonder sometimes if only a few dozen dead would've been the better option," Roland said. "Thankfully, it seems we've settled our problems for now. With my parents' council, I do not expect us to fight an internal war for quite some time." "That reminds me, I wish your father had come. For one we had a bet on which one of us would be assassinated first. I imagine, that I've lost that bet. Of course, perhaps you are right. Less death is preferable, especially when we need as many warm bodies as we can muster for this war. You have your parent's' wisdom, without them anywhere around. I believe the next generation is in good hands. Lady Gaer-" As Jeleen spoke, the very room seemed to be shaking, books in their cases and chairs rattling, followed by three hard knocks coming from High Hrothgar's doors. "What in Aetherius was that?" said Jeleen, he and his son gripping their blades. Roland reacted the same, but Lady Gaerhart placed a hand on his arm to stop him. In a low voice she said, "So, it is true." Speaking so the Redguards could hear, she added, "I believe one contender for the throne has arrived." Brund Hammer-Fang, ex legion Legate, and the Demon Chieftain of the Reach, had arrived. "Where do these damn things even come from?" he said, standing atop the corpse of a frost troll that dwarfed even him. Alfr Vega wasn't suited to cutting their thick hides. His Hammer-Fang was the weapon of choice for such tasks, as the poor thing beneath him found out the hard way. As he freed his weapon, Brund saw several other sets of eyes staring down at him from the rocks above. Hiding. Despite what the Grim Ones in Cyrodiil had claimed, even Frost Trolls knew when they were bested. They watched him still, as day became night, as the icy winds of the Throat of the World attempted to impede his path. And even as Brund walked the steps, wearing the skull of the creature Daric killed, it never occurred to him that the creatures might've felt agitated by the sight. Or perhaps it did, and he just didn't give a ****. It made for a good strong helmet and he wasn't about to give it up. "You fuckers can just keep coming, it makes for good practice!" he cried, shaking the earth around him as he roared, threatening to be swallowed up by mounds of falling snow. Even as they fell, Brund kept stomping his feet, roaring and daring the trolls to face him in combat once more. Boom, boom, boom... if they wouldn't come to him, the earth and snow would come to them. And it had, like oceans of white, a great bride's gown descending on them all from above, knocking them free from their perch. His own path was blocked now, but it mattered not. With a roar from his throat the snow and rock scattered, and Brund continued on his way. "Ugly *****, the lot of you," said Brund as he finished his salted horse meat. It seemed that the mountain was bored of testing him now. The rest of the way was uneventful, and the great vistas of Skyrim from his vantage point seemed lost on him entirely, even as the great bands and ribbons of Aetherius danced across Skyrim's crisp night sky. He felt nothing for it, just as he felt not the cold. He did take the time to read the stone etchings that decorated his path however. Emblem X The Voice is worship; Follow the Inner path; Speak only in True Need. "Get a load of this horse crap," said Brund. "I speak when I please, and see no gods stepping down to smite me. If anything, my voice is certainly a boon from them. I alone dictate my own path. And so it always has been, and so it always will be." He highlighted this point with a butt from his troll skull, leaving a crack forever in the age old tablet. Wasting no further time, Brund knocked on the doors to High Hrothgar, before stepping in himself, not waiting to be greeted. Arngeir and his Greybeards were waiting for him as he entered, but he paid no attention to their presence, instead looking all around within their home, a grin on his ugly mug as he took off his helmet. "Ahhh, at long last!" said Brund. "You've no idea how long I've awaited this meeting." "The sentiment, is shared," said Arngeir with no humor or sweetness in his tone. "Is that all you have to say to me?" he asked. "Hehehe, I am a guest in these halls, but I have not been permitted to enter just yet... I don't want to be rude..." Arngeir bit his lip, and for a time it seemed as though he'd say nothing. Brund cocked his head, licking his bottom lip. "Come now, don't be that way. I've come, in peace." Arngeir refused even still, until his brothers gave him a look. Finally the old man gave in, eyes downcast as he waved his arm in the traditional greeting of the Greybeards. "We recognize you as a guest in these holy halls. High Hrothgar... is open to you." "That's what I was waiting to hear! We're practically brothers now, you and I. Tongues one and all!" Brund highlighted his point by flailing his tongue back and forth in front of Arngeir. Placing a hand on his shoulder, he said, "I pray that you taught him well. He's a violent man, you know. Dangerous letting someone like that go unchecked with the voice." His laughter filled every inch of the room, reverberating from stone to stone, and filling every part of Arngeir's mind. His every step was a transgression, and he felt each step like a stab in his soul. As Brund further explored High Hrothgar, he came across Galmar Stone-Fist himself, nursing a bottle of mead he brought on his own. He remembered from his last visit the lack of good spirits. "You salty old dog. I did not expect to see you..." "Nor I you, Brund. You've come a long way, haven't you?" said Galmar. "Hehehehehe... You can say that. Have you come to accept me as your king?" "The only King I'll ever accept is one bearing the name of Stormcloak," said Galmar, spitting at his feet. "You and I are no longer brothers without that understanding. So piss off, before this gets ugly." Brund knelt down to his eye level. "Who says it hasn't already, eh? If getting fucked by our dead king is a requirement to rule, then Elisif is as much qualified to rule, but you know better than that." "Save it for the moot, Hammer-*****. A rock with Ulfric's seed dribbled upon it is more fit to rule than you, or Red-Snow. Ash-King, Demon Chieftain... MY SACK!" Brund grinned to his old mentor and said, "Perhaps I should've taken the mantle of Bear of Markarth? We all enjoy our titles, don't we. Anyway, you cling to your dead friend. Perhaps I'll have another one for you in the near future..." "Ulfric cared for you. Cared for everyone in Skyrim. He was the perfect king for this land. He loved his brothers and sisters. Loved them all." Brund didn't stop to hear Galmar continue and said under his breath, "And that, was his undoing..." Finally, Brund was amongst all the Jarls of Skyrim. The most powerful and influential people in the entire kingdom. A man like him would feel humbled in their presence, for these men and women would decide the fate for every last Nord from this day on. None of them mattered in the slightest to Brund. Not this black haired bitch he knew nothing about, not Korir, not... whoever the **** that was... Looking around, Brund hadn't seen Skald. Perhaps this man or the girl was a stand in for the old fart. It mattered not. No one wanted to see him shit himself anyway. Another equally old fart he passed by earlier, but he said nothing to him, merely left him to his book. So many unfamiliar faces stared back at him now, like the trolls that dared block his path. All except... "And look, it's Baldur's ragtag group of milkdrinkers. And.. ahhh Elisif," said Brund as he smiled, revealing his yellowed teeth. He approached her, arms raised as though he owned the place. He grabbed her by her hair, and stuck his tongue down her throat, then took his seat beside her, opposite of where Baldur sat, and exactly where the last Dragonborn had once sat the last time Elisif was in these honored halls. The irony did not escape her. She did not look at him, sealing herself away in her mind, where a piece of Torygg still dwelt. This is where she stayed on her night with Ulfric, and her night with Brund. It served her well, but the time for hiding was gone. The moot was about to start. In the recesses of the Greybeards’ outer halls, a dark haired woman stood with hands on the shoulders of a tall, solemn girl. “Stay here. It will be over soon and we’ll go home.” Veleda kissed Sofie on the forehead and left her to her books. The former queen had heard the rumbling and raving, and she knew what it was. The stories had passed along from Reachmen to other ears including hers. With a nod to Galmar, she steeled herself and entered the hall with him, while Sofie crept along behind, unseen. Inside, Veleda met the eyes of each jarl, gave a half nod to the Ra Gada and Bretons and what she surmised was the empress of Cyrodiil. Her black dress, trimmed with sable fur, showed clearly the line of her rounded stomach. She wore an ebony circlet set with amber stones and her cloak bore the embroidery of a Stormcloak bear, but the only other adornment she wore was the sigil of her husband’s house burned into her hand. Her eyes were dark-rimmed and her cheeks reddened from the exertion of the frigid descent from the Time Wound. Veleda’s eyes barely skimmed the figure of Elisif before resting on Brund. That was a long look, too long for politeness. “Jarl Hammer Fang. Brothers. I greet you.” With that the former queen took a seat at the middle of the table next to Galmar, and glanced over at the last empty chair. Dales remained as silent as the crypt as her frosty eyes lingered on the man. A...chill, went down her spine, as she felt...something. It wasn't dark magic, but a feeling of familiarity. This man made her feel the same way as she did in her father's presence. I understand now. Baldur had said little about Brund Hammer-Fang to her, but the she-elfs words rang true. As if a crawling chaos, Dales felt very uncomfortable around him. Her stomach twisted in even more disgust at his treatment of his bride to be. Clarity filled her. This...man, was just like her father. And was just as dangerous to Tamriel as he was. But to her horror, she knew, even as the Empress of Cyrodiil, she could do nothing. It was all in Baldur's hands now. She had done all she could for her friend. Now it was the time to remain silent. The Empress gripped her amulet of Auriel tightly, as she thought, sitting in her chair away from the main group. I've never asked anything from you. I beseech thee, Lord Auriel, protect Baldur. His fate is tied with the fate of Cyrodiil, and all though who dwell within in. The horrible feeling remained within. Until...it was consumed by darkness. Her amulet shone invisible, blue light. A voice whispered in her mind, "Light can be as dangerous as darkness, my knight. But I am here for you, as I promised. I'll always be here for you...." Was Dales now hearing voices? "If things get out of hand. Whisper sweet honey words to me. As the bells tolls, I shall come." The voice snickered, "I am yous. And you are mine." Dales choose not to speak to the voice, as she waited for this accursed gathering to begin. Unsure, if Baldur could beat this darkness. *** By Mother Kyne's Mountains, Her Seas and Glades, sharpen my tongue and quicken my blade, Over the fields, knee deep in snow, guide my hand for the killing blow, Bold and true I stand a Nord, a child of Kyne, a soldier of Shor, And if I die, my soul, don't discard. So that I may see Ragna one day, in Sovngarde. It's been quite the journey, hasn't it? We've been through alot, you and I. And we may still yet. But if not, know that I love you, and I'll miss what we shared. Wish me luck... Paarthurnax watched the yellow haired nord sit for hours on end, first at the time tear itself, and then where Paarthurnax once revealed the words of Yol Toor Shul to the Dragonborn. In truth, Paarthurnax never understood the ways of the Greybeards. The ways of the Joor, their Way of the Voice was not his own. Even so, he gave the man his silence and peace, saving Tiinvaak for another time. Baldur stood finally, when the tremors from below even reached the heights of the Throat of the World. It seemed that the time had finally come for him to leave. "Yol be with you, Ashen One. Breath, and focus." Baldur responded in kind with a smile and a wave of his hands in the traditional Greybeard way and then descended to High Hrothgar. The Moot had finally come. *** "Baldur Red-Snow, and Brund Hammer-Fang, the last Jarls to arrive. They are both finally here, and we may now begin the Moot. Baldur Red-Snow has taken a vow of silence, until the votes have been passed. May the gods be his judge, as well as the Jarls of Skyrim. May your judgement be honest and true." With that, Arngeir sat the fabled Jagged Crown on a pedestal beside the meeting table. "Yol!" said Arngeir, his thu'um lighting the fire at the table's center anew. Worry was all over his aged and weary face. Even he now wondered if what he'd done was the right call. Meeting a man like Brund would do that to you. Brund himself was tickled with amusement. Baldur Red-Snow, unable to speak? The minstrel? It was a dream come true for him. The gods judged true indeed, and they apparently weighed and measured the Ash-King, and found him wanting. He was all smiles until Baldur finally stepped into the room, wearing nothing but the simple robes of the Greybeards themselves, his hair being the only feature that stood out, aside from his stature and height. Somehow silence had granted him an air of authority Brund never thought he had before. He was a silly man more times than not. But now, he was something else. Someone else. His rival and blood enemy from a bygone era. All Brund saw was the face of Ulrin Red-Snow, silent, mocking. And it filled his heart with rage. Their eyes locked, and a low growl escaped Brund's throat. Baldur's own hands locked onto the edge of the stone table right across from him. The table seemed to stir, vibrating from the intensity of Brund's gaze and his growl as he stood. The air about him cold. Elisif felt this cold before, and it was the only thing colder than even the freezing hell that was her heart. The only thing that brought her back was the look in Red-Snow's eyes. His own gaze was as hard as Brund's, though nothing shook on his end at all. What those near him did notice however was the odd rise in temperature, even for the fires lit by the Greybeards. Elisif wiped her brow, no longer feeling Brund's chill, until Arngeir put a hand on Baldur's shoulders. "Please, be seated Jarl Hammer-Fang. Everyone. Let us begin." The Empress felt the heat. Like that of a Dragon. And with it, her valor returned. The young girl's own icy eyes narrowed, as she thought, Come on Baldur. This fucker is nothing. You can win this. I have faith in you. "Fellow Jarls," Vignar Gray-Mane spoke up, his rough voice resonating around the room. "It has been a long journey for all of us, and it is not one made lightly. This place is too damn high up for that..." A few people chuckled, but the Jarl of Whiterun remained serious, and they quickly followed in suit. "So I won't mince words. I came here to pledge my axe to the man who has fought for us, who has led us against our enemies time and time again." He reached to his hip and drew a splendid war-axe of Skyforged steel, and then pointed it at Baldur. "Baldur Red-Snow does not need to speak to earn Whiterun's loyalty. He did that long ago!" Vignar dropped his axe onto the table, where it clattered in front of Baldur. Though its echo had not even died before Jarl Fenrald's voice filled the hall. "Tell me, Vignar, did Red-Snow earn your loyalty when he torched Falkreath's farms, or when he aligned with the ones who destroyed our homes and tried to remove our god?" "After," Vignar answered. "We haven't met, Fenrald, but everyone here who knows me also knows that I've no love for the Empire. But acting on old grievances will get us nowhere. Not when we have a greater enemy in the elven lands." "You call them old grievances, but the way I see it," Fenrald drew his axe and pointed it at Dales, "there stands my greatest enemy." He turned, and tossed the weapon in front of Brund. Brund grabbed the axe before him, eyeing it the way a babe might a new toy. Looking at Baldur, he waved it at him, grinning from ear to ear. Baldur's face remained unchanged. "I thank you, Fenrald for your wise decision. Though, let's get something clear. I intend to usher in a golden age for this land. It will be gold, because there'll be a new skin rug in every home for each Altmer I kill. That, is my first goal. That said, you are correct. I remember Ulfric once telling us, and that includes my comrade there staring at me so hard... to 'Never forget! Never forget!' And I promise all of you..." Pointing a clawed gauntlet finger at Baldur, he said, "Brund never forgets." At those harsh accusations, Dales considered remaining silent, but she felt she couldn't. "I did not know Ulfric Stormcloak. He surely had no love for me, like Jarl Greymane" The Empress said, scratching her chin, "But what I did know was he wanted trade, and close military cooperation with Cyrodiil. You go against that, you go against Ulfric. With an Empire, that wasn't an Empire like the ones before it. At the same token, I doubt if you hate me, you'll even believe my words, so I won't waste them." She paused, "Then hear this. The Dominion marshals its forces while we're on this mountain. They don't care. They'll put us all to the sword. Dislike the Empire all you want, but the real enemy is to the south of Cyrodiil. Humanity needs to be united, not divided." And with that, the Empress fell silent. Baldur eyes her. He wasn't angry, but the Nord's eyes looked...pleading. As if to say, "Be a little more quiet girl!" Dales rolled her eyes, but did a quick, curt nod to him. Brund stood next, noticing Baldur's look. With a sly smile he gave Baldur a look of his own. Looking to the Empress of Cyrodiil directly next, Brund decided to test her temperament. "Speak, when spoken to, carpet licking wench. This is a moot of Nords. You lot, are guests. Act like it." Baldur continued to look at Dales, slowly shaking his head. Dales remained silent, and her face unemotive. Baldur seemed relieved, meanwhile Brund was amused. As he sat back down, Arngeir stood awkwardly, clearing his throat. "The other Jarls have the floor." "The Empress spoke true," declared Ingun Black-Briar. She looked at Fenrald, "We are still recovering from two wars and yes, our homes have suffered -Riften knows what that's like as well as anyone- but we can't afford to look for enemies in the past. We need to focus on rebuilding and preparing for the future." "A future where we ignore those who wronged us," growled Fenrald. "Who only stopped wronging us when we forced them to! I'm not afraid of some elves on the other side of the world. The only time they threatened us was when the Imperials made it possible."
  3. 3 points
    She wears an invisible amulet only she can see and speaks to an elven corpse.
  4. 3 points
    Because I think the head jumping combined with the shift in style of writing between paragraphs can be rather jarring. While some of you don't like to have posts flow like a novel, I do prefer it since novels are generally written in a way to make it easier to read. I thought you knew and simply loved Dark Souls 3 so much you decided to copy their names.
  5. 3 points
    Went to see Bladerunner 2049 this weekend. It was really, really good. I'm almost positive they were using some Easter eggs/ references of Fallout, especially New Vegas. In any case, it was a good homage to the original and an excellent story in its own right with a lot of the classic bleak atmosphere of dystopian noir.
  6. 3 points
    Like I said in the pm, making this post was a frikin blast, thank you guys for the help, you all really sold this post and made everything feel authentic imo Honorable mention to Veleda for telling it like it is and being the candidate sky rim doesn't deserve, Roland for being the most professional and not embarrassing Baldur lol, Dales for being ******* Dales and being more useful than I expected, and Doc for playing the shit out of those Jarls.
  7. 2 points
    The most animeish thing is those dumb weebs duel wielding kattannas, with edgy armor that some times try to invade you in PVP (Bloodswords I think they call themselves) Everyone, including the devs make fun of them.
  8. 2 points
    Myself included. Dark Souls isn't very anime-ish. I wouldn't like it if it was. There are a few weapons that are stupidly large and that is a turn-off for me, but the main reason for this is that the enemies who carried them are usually gigantic and their weapons are lootable. It's easy to go through the game without ever wielding one of the dumb big weapons.
  9. 2 points
  10. 2 points
    Like I said, honestly, the games are very, very Western most of the time in art design. A few of my other buds really hate anime, and all of them are Souls nuts. The game has a complicated upgrade system that allows weapons you find at the start to be perfectly viable throughout the game. There's countless examples of realistically proportional weapons. You can role a halberd. Or a morning star. Or a bow.
  11. 2 points
    As for Dales, I forgot that we talked about this. But, were I her, hypothetically speaking and if I also hypothetically knew Bman killed Ulfie, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I’d work with him since you kinda gotta, but warily. Im an Imperial Empress with ties to Thalmor. Once upon a time but ties none the less. If Baldur could kill Ulfric for believing he stood in his way, how quick would Baldur put an axe to me if he thought the same?
  12. 2 points
  13. 2 points
    That corpse was able to tell her things she shouldn't be able to know (Baldur's chronic backstabbing disorder, Brund being infested by dark magic, and that she could find a cure for her condition at throat of the world). Dunmaor, whatever it is, is almost certainly not conjured by her mind.
  14. 2 points
    I agree with Celan that the Ulfric thing is certainly Baldur's fault. Though I doubt that made it easy. But at the end of the day I guess it depends on how his story ends. The Ashen One and Dark Souls in general he such a bleak story because even the best case scenario is basically everyone finally dying after the curse is lifted. There's no chance for things to be good like they used to be. On the flip side, Baldur's story still has a lot of hope. He's still got Rebec and Ragna and Kyne's Watch.
  15. 2 points
    Baldur didn't have to kill Ulfric. He chose to, and other than Daric and Maori hasn't suffered any consequences and isn't especially troubled by it. That's why Veleda hates him so much. No opinion on Dark Souls, of course, since I haven't played it.
  16. 2 points
    Souls Ashen One definitey has it worse. Baldur's got it rough, but it's no contest. The Souls universe is so bleak it makes post-Red Year Morrowind seem like a vacation resort.
  17. 2 points
    Their heavily associated with fire too lol Don't know who has it worse though. Brund was basically an end game Souls boss.
  18. 2 points
    It's mostly that it don't become clear which character the focus has been shifted to until the second or third sentence into the paragraph. Also going into a new paragraph without changing speaker as I've already said I take an issue with before. There also seems to be a line missing when Dales talks with Vignar.
  19. 2 points
    Personally, I've been waiting for everyone to read it before I comment on here. Didn't want to spoil things for Witch or Czar. How about a talking point?
  20. 2 points
    I thought it flowed pretty well. It's an RP, not a novel. All in all I think the RP has gotten a bit too far on the side of people writing their own long posts, so it was nice to be part of a collaborative scene again, even though I wasn't actually collaborating much. Ode to Brund
  21. 2 points
    Rent is due guys, if you can kick in now would be the time!
  22. 2 points
    My dude you'd love it. Don't even need to play the first two.
  23. 2 points
    Thinking back to it, I think I joined right after Ulfric was killed. You asked me on Tumblr if I'd change my mind about joining since Ulfric was killed off and when I joined the newest post was the battle in Windhelm.
  24. 2 points
    Probably but I won't remember until it comes I drop a lot of stuff like that on the off chance I'll actually go through with it. I intended for Ulfric to die eventually but it wasn't always this way.
  25. 2 points
    Rofl already spoiled it ah well, tbh I didn't intend for the ending to be mysterious really.
  26. 2 points
  27. 2 points
  28. 2 points
    Personally I hated that the first dragonborn, a nord at that, was made into Herma Mora's bitch. From a story perspective it was great but man, I wanted to let him know just how little I thought of him. If it were new vegas I'd have gotten to verbally light his ass up. Which reminds me, take back what I said about FNV's speech checks, it feels very rewarding when you can finally start pouring the skill points into speech and pass them since some of those speech checks help quests along in very big ways, especially in the dlcs.
  29. 2 points
    True Nords don't need one shield. They use their armored pecs. But this one ain't for a Nord. It's for my milk-drinking companion.
  30. 2 points
    Why don't you man the **** up and duel wield shields like a true Nord?
  31. 2 points
    I think that's why Balrog said he was a huge missed opportunity. The concept of the first Dragonborn trying to free himself from daedric influence is really cool and had the potential to make for a great nemesis. But instead it's like you said, he ended up just being another asshole with very little depth.
  32. 2 points
    Eh, I don't see him as that complex. Just another asshole grasping for power. Ulfric is more interesting.
  33. 2 points
    BTW since Colonel always sings it high praise I played Dead Space 1 on my old PS3 yesterday. Played it a long while ago, kinda forgot about it (Though it was good). It's pretty damn horrifying, and the gameplay's aged well. Surprised the most by it being very Japanese-horror in gameplay design. It plays almost exactly like Resident Evil 4, just less combo based and more on accurately slicing up limbs. There's the ammo management (The feeling when you only have a single bullet and these giant horror is charging at you is exactly the same) The levels are very intricate, kinda Resident Evil 1/7 esque. Western horrors game are usually like Outlast/Amensia, all running/hiding and you can't fight back, but lol, Isaac can certainly fight back by stopping on the Necodudes. So Deadspace is an Eastern Horror game made by white people. Probably going to finish it after I do Evil Within 2.
  34. 2 points
    love it. @SJWs, at least they provide endless entertainment. Glad I'm in the south.
  35. 2 points
  36. 2 points
    That article introduced me to the funniest video game commercial ever.
  37. 2 points
    Personally, I even think the BoS ones are bad. But the characters are just interesting enough to disguise the fact that it's all just "Go here. Kill/Find X. Return for reward." with very few alternate solutions. Danse'a quest was the best part but I consider it more of a companion quest anyway.
  38. 2 points
    Looks interesting. I doubt I will ever touch that game again though. Last time I played, I gave myself an Iron Man suit just so I could enjoy the game.
  39. 2 points
    We're live on IndieGOGO to resurrect our project budget so we can continue developing Witanlore: Dreamtime! CLICK HERE TO BACK Please share our link to help us build some hype and check out our latest cinematic trailer from Early Access!
  40. 2 points
    Finishing the Moot post I have to say, exact reaction.
  41. 2 points
    The Moot: Part 2 "Aye," said Jarl Korir. "If the Thalmor are a danger to Cyrodiil, then it would make sense for the Empress to want us on her side against them. That doesn't mean that we should share in her fears." "Have you already forgotten what happened to Windhelm?" Ingun asked. "To Ulfric? The Thalmor are a threat to everyone, not just Cyrodiil." Others nodded in agreement, but Fenrald held strong. "I remember stories about a ship made of sunlight leading a fleet to assault the city. I also remember that they were defeated that same day. Skyrim's enemies have tried to take her from us since the days of Ysgramor's sons. And they have always failed. The only time in four eras that elves have ruled us was when our leaders became cowardly enough to rely on Cyrodiil." "I do not think that Jarl Baldur intends for us to rely on Cyrodiil." Jarl Skald's brother, the man called Vrage, spoke up. "Granted, it is hard to know for certain, given his decision to remain silent." Baldur smiled at that, apparently amused by it all, when he probably should've been worried. "Perhaps he thinks himself a Greybeard," said Brund, annoyed by this. "Perhaps he should stay up here then. Leave the fighting to me." "Perhaps he thinks you'll win this for him with your jokes," stated Vrage. "Tell us, Jarl Brund, what do you offer Skyrim besides "skin rugs" and a promise that you never forget? Right now, it seems that Fenrald knows something that I don't. Do you intend to maintain the alliance with Cyrodiil if you are named High King?" "Firstly..." Brund chucked something at Arngeir of all people. Surprisingly the old man was quick enough to catch it. It was a pouch full of coin. Silver coins to be exact. Arngeir considered throwing it back but thought better of it. "I appreciate this generous donation to High Hrothgar and accept it graciously," said Arngeir. "Thank the Forsworn slaves I have working extra hard to fund this little war of ours," said Brund. "And secondly, yes. I don't disagree with Baldur's bringing the Imps to heel. In fact, I applaud your little dog trick, Red-Snow. But you should've let your pets stay home. You left your wife, after all. But this alliance came at too easy a cost on part of the Imperials." Baldur's eyebrows raised before biting his lip. He was also gripping Vignar's axe like it was the only thing keeping him in his seat. "Your silver didn't help Riften when bandits reduced it to ashes," Ingun said to Brund. "When our people were scattered and homeless, our lands plagued by bandits and the Thalmor, it was Jarl Baldur who sent aid. He defended us in our time of need, even just after his own city was attacked and none would have blamed him for ignoring us. It wasn't his obligation, it was his choice." She drew her own axe now, and placed it on the table beside Baldur's clenched fist. "For that, the Rift will stand behind Baldur Red-Snow." She gave Baldur a smile. "And I pledge my axe to him till the day Sovngarde greets us." "Jarl Baldur's defense of the Rift said a lot," stated Korir. "But Jarl Brund makes a good point as well. I sympathize with Falkreath every bit as much as I do the Rift. We bled for the Imperials, and our reward was that damned concordat and more war. In the end, the cost for it all was too easy." His face softened, "But what's done is done... Vrage, where do you stand?" "You know damned well that I stand here in place of my brother," replied Vrage. "Dawnstar's axe remains with Dawnstar. Unless I learn that Jarl Skald stopped breathing during my journey here, I maintain his claim to the throne." Every one of the Jarls laughed at that, none louder than Brund. Even Baldur closed his eyes and seemed to try and stifle the chuckles. At last, of all people, it was Galmar Stone-Fist who interrupted the laughter. "I'm no Jarl, but were I, I'd sooner drop my axe before Elisif. At least she can swing it." He glanced at Ulfric's first wife. "Ehhhh, on second thought, maybe not..." Elisif showed fire in her eyes for the first time that night. She moved to stand and speak, but felt Brund's glare on her without even meeting his eyes. When she leaned back, Brund said, "I'm not the only Jarl that likes his jokes it seems. Let's be serious. We know which Jarls this moot is for..." "Aye," agreed Vrage, "I think we do." He turned and looked to the foreigners. First to Roland, then Jeleen, and lastly Dales. "You came here at Baldur's behest, not to seat a puppet as has happened before, but to show that you are willing to allow Skyrim to lead your alliance if Baldur is at its helm. Why?" "I thought better of you," Fenrald said. "Is there a Nord in this room that can take a shit without asking foreigners for their opinion?" Vrage ignored him and nodded to Roland. "You first, Prince. Why does High Rock support an alliance led by this man?" Roland, seated against the wall, stood and looked over the Nords seated at the table. "I am here on behalf of my parents, who have their own reasons for supporting Baldur. But their reasons are not mine. I support him because of what the citizens of Windhelm said about him and his valiant defense of mankind's first city. I support him because I saw the dead Thalmor hanging from the trees in the Rift. And I support him because it was his meetings, with the Redguards and my late grandfather King Gaerhart, that forged this alliance. To stand not only against the Thalmor, but against Cyrodiil. If we are to defeat the Thalmor, we will need a mind as sharp and an arm as strong as his leading us. And that is why High Rock supports Jarl Red-Snow." Prince Roland nodded at Baldur and sat back down. "Baldur Red-Snow wasn't the only one defending mankind's first city," said Brund. "It was my thu'um that allowed us to reach the Sunbirds, and cause them to rout. Alas, this was not as well known. Because the minstrel here has a talent for... theatrics. But in any case, it doesn't matter. Ingun brought up that Baldur went off to defend the Rift not out of obligation, but that's not necessarily true... You lot have faulty memories it seems. It was his so called brother that burned down Riften in the first place, allowing the Thalmor a safe haven to retreat to. Of course he defended your home, he felt guilty! So maybe you shouldn't be so quick to smile for him and pledge your allegiance." Turning to Roland, he said, "And you shouldn't be so quick to speak on matters you know nothing about. You might've seen the bodies, but it was I that helped make them." A few seconds passed as the Jarls waited for the Prince to respond, but he made no effort to do so, seemingly knowing better than to insert himself into their debate. At last, it was Vignar who broke the silence. "Baldur is not responsible for the burning of Riften. The man behind it it was one of my own. He was kinless, and not tied to Windhelm or Kyne's Watch in any way. If anyone at this table deserves blame for his actions, it is I." "And if anyone has the right to place that blame, it is I," said Ingun. She looked at Brund. "Baldur owed us nothing, and if guilt is what drove him to aid us then so be it. This only proves that he is not a heartless ruler." Baldur didn't seem to hear the words of the Jarls, or even care. The second Brund started talking about Boldir was the second that he stood to his feet. "What, Red-Snow? Got something to say? No? Well too bad," said Brund, visibly annoyed. He had to bite his lip to fight his urge to strangle him right then and there, and the Black-Briar bitch too. And the old man. In fact, blood was trickling from his bottom lip as he and Baldur locked eyes. "Baldur might not have anything to say, but I do," said Jeleen. "Father..." "Hush, Jabreel. I am a High King myself. I'll not wait my turn to speak like some dog. Hear me, Nords of Skyrim. I have earned the right to speak at this moot and say my piece, by right of blood spilled together by your side. Does anyone here challenge this claim?" Everyone looked at Brund and Fenrald, though while the former still glared at Baldur, the latter frowned. "I kept silent while the Imperial girl pratted out more words than two of the claimants, and now you think I'll challenge the right of a man whose people fought beside me? Damn you all." He shook his head and faced Jeleen. "If any Jarl has a problem with you speaking, then they have a problem with me as well." "Good!" said Jeleen, grinning from ear to ear with his hands clasped to his gut. He had to pause a moment... he wasn't expecting the Jarls to let him talk without at least a grumble. Clearing his throat several times, he said, "This moot is a formality, isn't it? Fair enough, I don't know this Brund, I didn't have the chance to meet Veleda here in person, and when I met the Red-Snows, she was not yet Queen anyway. But by your gods, Nords, this isn't even hard. Baldur Red-Snow and his wife, they are the ones that earned my trust. I sent them on what seemed like a lost cause, a false hope. A doomed mission. You think you Nords are stubborn, try the Alik'r, or any deep desert war chieftain of Hammerfell. Not only did they manage to convince the Alik'r to ally with me, they also somehow managed to get them to hate their chieftain afterwards... he hated this man so much he attempted to kill him at a negotiating table, and failed. After that the Red-Snows marched back into my palace with most of Hammerfell promised to me on a silver platter..." Jeleen seemed to be playing the moment back in his mind. "He risked his life to make this work. He and his wife. As a warrior, not just some soft handed politician. He even impressed the current Alik'r chieftain with how quickly he dispatched the former. And this isn't just an alliance to fight elves, but any foreign power that wishes to ruin our hard earned independence. Or otherwise, I'd not be sitting next to the likes of... her." Jeleen pointed behind him at Dales. "Rather, she'd be missing a head instead and I'd be going home with a trophy. Fenrald. I respect your stance, I do. I myself was disappointed when I heard the Nords allied with the Imperials instead of doing what we sent our Ra Gada to do. Kill them to the last man and woman. But, even I admit this is better. Falkreath has suffered, true. But the alternative could be elves telling you directly when you can piss and shit, or borrowing your wife on weeks end directly, instead of indirectly through weak southerners. And I can tell you one thing. That man you stand with? Would have never gained our support to defend Falkreath." Brund shook his head the entire time Jeleen spoke, but he let him finish. Even he did not wish to show him disrespect. "You have no idea how many elves, countless amounts of elves I killed defending your home in the Great War, Redguard. You wound and dishonor me with your words." "And I thank you for your hand in defending it," said Jeleen, frowning. "But I know a king when I see one, versus a common butcher. It's what I've been trying to explain to my son. A King must be a warrior and diplomat both, or that King will bring only war to his kingdom and nothing else." "I've heard enough," stated Vrage. Turning to Baldur, he said, "I do not know what kind of man you are, but from all these words from royals and esteemed Jarls, it seems clear that you are the only man to lead this alliance, and that is what Skyrim needs right now." "Agreed," Korir said. "I do not believe that we are as threatened by the elves as these foreigners would have us believe, but if we are to march against them regardless, then I would have our king be the one who is at the head of it all. Besides, the Old Holds have always stood together on such matters. I'll not be the one to break the tradition." The two men drew their axes, and as they tossed them onto the pile, Jarl Sorli stood and did the same, saying, "A High King with ties to so many rulers can only bring fortune to Skyrim." She glanced at Dales and retook her seat. "Sorry, Brund." "It seems the Moot has chosen it's champion." Dales gave a self satisfied, and as she would say, "shit-eating grin", just as she said with faux politeness, "It's seems, my good JARL Brund, that the gods have ordained you to follow Baldur Red-Snow again, as you always have." Elisif seemed more upset than Brund did at that moment, fighting back tears whilst Brund feigning anger soon gave in to smirking slightly. Though now it was his turn to grip his weapon, so hard in fact that the creak of the wood and steel under his grasp was audible. Before anyone could say another word however, Galmar Stone-Fist stood, slamming his own steel hammer into the table before him. "I've had enough of the lot of you." "You take issue with our decision?" Vrage asked. "You're damned right I do," said Galmar. "Not an ounce of loyalty between the lot of you! Ulfric Stormcloak is not dead, he lives on in the child of Veleda Fire-Hand! She is the rightful Queen of Skyrim! Not Baldur, and certainly not Brund either! Both of you, fighting over his legacy like wolves surrounding an elk carcass. It's despicable. And you..." Galmar pointed a finger at Baldur. "Before his body was even cold claiming his wife's seat? Screw you, Red-Snow. You were there the day we all decided she was the perfect candidate. You know damn well Ulfric desires her to rule in his stead. We all did! Now you claim to be Wulfharth's incarnate to steal the seat. And you!" Galmar pointed to Arngeir. "You and these 'holy men', you help him do it? Ulfric was your student first! You were a father to him! Screw you the most!" Arngeir was quiet for the majority of the moot, and truly surprised at the direction it had gone without Baldur having even echoed a word. But now his face was not of shock or surprise, but woe. "What the gods reveal to us has nothing to do with us. I have not interfered or claimed anything, I've only allowed the gods to show favor by judgement of the Jarls, without the influence of even Baldur's speech." "Oh stuff it! Show some gods damned loyalty! Baldur didn't need to speak anyway when he had this lot to do it for him! We are supposed to be better than Imperials and Bretons. From where I stand, none of you are any different." "I too was the rightful Queen of Skyrim, Galmar. You didn't have any problem replacing me then. Why now should this be any different?" said Elisif, smiling plainly at his anger. "Because unlike Veleda Fire-Hand, you are nothing but a cowardly whore, letting yourself be used in such a way..." Galmar was eying Brund now, who again only smiled and licked his lips. Bursting out of her seat, Elisif said, "I am NOT a whore! I still serve Torygg in my heart! I still serve Solitude! I-." Elisif sat back down, trying to hold her tongue, and tears as best she could. "I am doing the best I can in his absence. Someone must see that Solitude's wealth be returned to Solitude." "Whatever," said Galmar, dismissing her entirely. "Veleda, please," he said. "Show them why we believed in you." The former queen of Skyrim stood up. "Brothers. None of you greeted me, nor have you asked my opinion, which is why I have held it until you each had your say. I am no longer a jarl, and a Moot is for the jarls. For the jarls." At this Veleda gave Baldur a withering glance. "Yet I do have something to say, if you will permit me. Many here today have held forth about what Ulfric would do or what he would want, even the leader of Cyrodiil, who had better held her tongue on the subject. I believe I can speak to that subject." She turned to address the foreigners. "First to our guests. Ulfric and I would have gladly welcomed any one of you in our hall, but I do not gladly see you here now, in our holy place and at a moot. Your very presence taints whatever decision comes out of this assembly, leaves it open to challenge. Yet that fault is not yours. Prince Roland, I was glad to meet your father. My daughter, Ulfric’s appointed heir, has followed his rise with great interest. Noble Ra Gada, you showed all of us the way, and you came to Skyrim’s aid in Falkreath though we had not come to yours in Hegathe, to our shame. Dales Draconus, if Cyrodiil is ready to help allay the grievous harm your country did to ours, if you've put aside your faithless ways, then I'm happy to fight alongside the legion once again. Please give my regards to High General Gracchus. I betrayed his trust, but I relied on his example in battle after battle for Skyrim’s freedom." "I did not know Ulfric as long as many in this room, but I knew his mind at the end. We spent many days and nights talking about the kind of Skyrim that we hoped to build. I knew his plans, and his fears." Veleda paused, looking around the room at the faces before her. For a moment they swam, and she could imagine that one of them belonged to her husband. It was not wholly an illusion. He looked down on her from Sovngarde now. One day she would have to answer to him for what she did, and what she did not do. Placing a hand on her stomach, she went on, "I accepted the honor of being Ulfric's queen for the sake of Skyrim’s future. Yet we are not imperials. A High King or Queen earns that right not because of title or inheritance, but because of deeds. Sofie knows it, and it's what I'll teach our child who will never meet his great father. For this reason, I make no claim now to Skyrim’s throne." She held out her hand to keep Galmar from coming out of his seat, and went on before his sputtering could form words, or before she could lose her nerve. "Jarl Brund Hammer Fang." Veleda turned to him. "In one year you managed to achieve a peace in the Reach that neither the empire nor the kings of Skyrim ever could. Perhaps someday you’ll share with us in greater detail how you managed to accomplish what others before you could not, and how you managed to become jarl. For now, you have allowed us confidence that the Reachmen will not take advantage of another war. We all owe you a debt of gratitude." "Baldur Red-Snow. You sit on a seat that has belonged to the family of Ulfric Stormcloak for generations. You usurped his title, his lands, and you use his name and seal. As Galmar rightly charged, you did all this before his body was even cold and before I or my daughter could return to make any claim. I cannot say that Ulfric would have approved of the way in which you took his seat." She took a breath, then went on, "Yet I do not think he would have disapproved of the jarls’ choice. You had Ulfric's trust. He relied upon you time and again not only for the might, but the cunning that a High King of Skyrim requires. Skyrim cannot afford a war of succession while the Dominion threat looms. You are the one Ulfric would want to take up his seat and his cause, for the sake of all our children." Veleda removed a sword from her belt and held it up. "The sword of Queen Freydis, Ulfric’s bride gift to me." Fire-Hand had no vote, so she didn’t add the sword to the pile of axes in front of Baldur, but did place it on the table in front of her, with the point towards him. Leaning on it, the former queen gripped the hilt so hard it turned her knuckles white, and her eyes burned as she held Baldur’s. Make it mean something. Brund raised out of his seat so quickly that it fell to the floor behind him. And these were stone chairs. Arngeir grimaced at the destruction of their property, between Brund and Galmar both, the latter of which was bowing his head in defeat. Brund on the other hand still held defiant. "I think it's time I-," "ENOUGH." It was Baldur who finally spoke, also standing once again before slamming his hands on the pile of axes before him. Every Jarl's eyes were on him, stunned silent by the sudden sound of his voice. "The moot is over. I am High King of Skyrim. Now I will speak, and you will listen." Brund did not like that at all, and evidently neither did Elisif. "This isn't over yet, Baldur Red-Snow!" "You're damned right it isn't!" cried Brund. "Tiiiiinvaak! Onikaan.... UTH!" When Baldur's thu'um left his throat, Brund's clenched hands went straight to his head, as if trying to block out Baldur's words. "Get out of my head, you *****! What is the meaning of this?!" "I said I will speak, and you will listen. Jarls of Skyrim, can you understand my words?" The Jarls were clearly shaken. Most of them had never witnessed the thu'um in person, and those who had did not expect it now, not from the man who'd spent so long in silence. At last, it was not a Jarl, but Vrage who spoke, his voice stricken with awe. "Aye, my king. We can understand you." Fresh from her false declaration, Veleda's eyes narrowed at the thu'um and Baldur's question. She had spoken her piece, however, and kept silent now. Taking her seat, she laid a hand on the sword and seemed unmoved by anything further going on around her. From the entrance, Sofie still peered in, watching the proceedings. Dales was clearly surprised, but not frightened even if she couldn't understand him. Her cocky smile, turned into a full, sadistic, grimace, as she felt a tinge of pleasure. Her efforts hadn't been in vain, and she was sure now, her faith had been well placed. Baldur would be high king, and all would be well. She, however, knew it was a time to be silent, and let the Nordic tongue speak. Baldur met Veleda's eyes first. He felt her hate more clearly than any other sensation he felt now. As if that sword pointing at him were running him through worse than her glare. He knew that was the point. He was speaking as the High King now... that realization hadn't dawned on him fully, the idea that this was really happening. That he'd be the one to follow in Ulfric's footsteps. As Baldur spoke, Elisif sobbed, the sound of the thu'um and the memories of Torygg's death and the realization that she failed yet again too much for her to handle. Brund was beginning to recover, so Baldur began quickly. "First of all, Veleda's words leave me humbled, truly. She has proven to be one of the strongest women I've ever met. And for that, I request here today that should I die in battle, or my time as king comes to an end, that Veleda Fire-Hand be made my successor. I have no desire to rob the Stormcloak line of their birthright. I sought to be king and took action so quickly out of necessity. And I will continue to. Of course, it is not the obligation of the Jarls to honor such a request, but let it be known regardless. Now..." Baldur turned to Falkreath and Solitude's Jarls respectively. "You do not have the information that I have on the dominion, so I do not blame you for not fearing the possibility of elven rule in these lands. You will soon be made aware, for I would have our Jarls fight by my side if they are willing. The old grudges, pettiness and spitefulness, they end here. The elves attacked our home in the heart of our land, and for that, we will march. And we will not stop until we've returned the favor tenfold. I am not telling you to forgive the Imperials, but you will work with them. The Elves have reclaimed their power of old, and the Nords will be at the helm to send them back where they belong. No one will stand in the way of our victory. My children and yours will be safe from elven influence, or all of Skyrim will go hand in hand to Sovngarde trying. Am I clear?" "Yes," said Vignar and Ingun. "Aye," said Korir and Vrage. Sorli the Builder nodded, and Fenrald remained silent, but made no effort to argue. "That goes for you too, Elisif and Brund," said Baldur. "Even you must admit this is a more pressing issue than whatever it is between you, and I." "Whatever it is between you, and I?" said Brund. His face was red and he was perspiring but was otherwise fine. He raised his hammer, and showed it to him, the blood of troll and Breton still caked between and around its steel spikes. "What you and I have is a blood feud. Know whose blood this is?" Baldur couldn't breathe, and gave no response. His heart was pounding so powerfully he thought it might cease to beat entirely. He felt as though the spikes had pierced his chest right then and there. "Yes... you understand now, don't you?" said Brund, smiling. "Holy ground, High-King. Remember what the Grey-Beards taught you!" "B-Bru-.." Baldur's eyes were wild with hate, swimming in tears. The heat from before returned as his mouth began to form the words... "Baldur, don't!" said Arngeir. "ZUN HAAL VIIK." The words themselves weren't spoken loudly, but the echo reverberated off the hall's high ceiling. In an instant Brund's weapon was torn from his hands and flung against the wall behind him, falling with a thunk. Veleda followed up her disarm shout with a warning. "Respect the Moot's decision, Jarl Hammer Fang. Respect these halls. Or you will be made to." "Insolent bitch, know your place!" said Brund, punching the table and leaving cracks in the stone. The thu'um from her caught him off guard... how many did Ulfric train in his absence... "It is you who have forgotten your place, Hammer-Fang!" Vignar said in a raised voice. "Stay out of this, all of you! Brund, tell me whose blood that is!" said Baldur. "I'll tell you, soon enough," said Brund, clenching his fist repeatedly to combat the throbbing from Veleda's shout. "Elisif. Give me my hammer." Elisif wiped her face, but stayed in her place, unsure of what to do. Things were beginning to get out of hand, and she was unsure how much further she could stand to go... "Stay where you are, Elisif," said Baldur. "Unless you'd like to be charged with treason as well." "Oho that's rich!" said Brund with a knowing smile. "Do as I said, bitch! Or end up like your dead husband!" For that, Elisif finally ceased her sniveling, slowly getting up and inching towards Brund's weapon and namesake. "How far. How far will you go to drive Torygg's name through the dirt?" said Baldur. His shout had worn off now, and Elisif seemed as though she could think clearly again. She continued her path... "Tinvaak Onikaan Uth!" said Baldur, following with a command. "Diin!" She froze in place. Diin. Freeze. Stop. She heard the words clearly, and obeyed. She didn't feel forced to listen. She wanted to stop. To simply do nothing. She missed the days when that's all she had to do. Watch Torygg work and be there by his side, his loving support. But he was dead, and she had to pick up the slack. Shaking her head until it was clear, Elisif kept moving. "I am not dragging his name through the dirt. You lot have already done that." "You miss him. I understand. But what you are doing here? Helping him? And for what, because I hurt your feelings? Because of some misguided feeling of saving Solitude? You wish to save Solitude, then cease this... desperation and go home. Prepare your people for war and stop being such a coward," said Baldur. "I AM NOT A COWARD!" "DREH NII!" said Baldur. "Prove it..." said Elisif, as if acknowledging his words. "How do I do that..." "Do as I said before," said Baldur. "Stop this. Stop putting Skyrim at risk for your sorrow. Prepare your hold, or go see Torygg. As you should have, long ago." Elisif didn't say anything to that. For a time she simply stood in place. "Hahahahaha, what can I say, she is indeed a coward," said Brund. "But I knew this. Hurry up and give me my weapon already." She obeyed. It was heavier than she expected, but she managed to heft the thing up over her shoulders as she made her way over to her master. Baldur shook his head in disgust as she continued her display of shame. Grinning, Brund held his hand out, waiting for his weapon. It never came. Instead, he heard a loud clang as Elisif dropped his Hammer-Fang and instead grabbed the Axe of Falkreath that Brund knocked to the ground earlier with his punch to the table. She grabbed a fist full of his mohawk, yanking him down to her level until he was sitting, then brought the fine steel axe down in one strike towards his vulnerable and scarred neck, as though it were a guide telling her where to strike him. "Elisif!" Vignar barked. "What are you doing you witless bitch?!" roared Fenrald. A choir of voices rang out as the leaders of Skyrim attempted to talk her down, but Elisif ignored them all. He's right. I am a coward. And I'm putting Solitude and all of Skyrim at danger out of sorrow for Torygg. But no more. "Prove it? Fine, I'll prove it! For Sovngarde!" She cried as the axe came down. She could still hear Baldur's words echoing through her mind, bouncing around inside her skull... Brund grabbed her hand at only the last moment, feeling the fine edge at his neck. As he grappled with her, Elisif drew a dagger and attempted to gouge his eyes out. Before that could happen, Brund's head came up, hitting her in the jaw before he lifted her up and slammed her on the table before Fenrald. "Elisif, for attempting to kill the future High-King of Skyrim, I sentence you to death. How do you plead?" She only let out a weak whimper. "Heh." "Tiid!" cried Arngeir, dashing for Brund as fast he could. By now, even the other Jarls had risen to stop him. But it was far too late for that. Without anymore words and before the Greybeards or anyone could intervene, Brund brought the same hand down into her sternum, killing the young Jarl Elisif the Fair instantly. "You're next, Red-Snow! I challenge you by my right as Jarl to duel for the seat of High King!" Baldur's face was wrought with confusion. One minute Elisif was there, the same desperate and stupid girl he'd always known. The next, she simply wasn't there at all. Now, Brund was pointing a finger at him and challenging him for a seat he only just now earned. That much wasn't surprising. Somehow he knew it would come to this. Shaking his head, Baldur took a deep breath to calm himself. Brund was taunting him, trying to get him worked up. The blood on his hammer could've been from anyone, anything. "This is madness!" said Jeleen. "Refuse!" "He won't," said Brund, laughing at his futile plea. "A man is measured by the quality of his enemies. And my biggest enemy is a true Nord. He won't say no. He can't. Not even Torygg refused Ulfric..." "I refuse," said Baldur. "What??? Excuse me?" cried Brund. "You heard me. I refuse. I am already king, and the king doesn't have to accept a challenge. If the Jarls today think I am weak by turning down this pissing contest, then so be it," said Baldur. "We need every able bodied Nord to defeat the elves, especially our tongues! Don't you see that, you fool? Fight by my side like we did in Windhelm and lets finish this fight!" Brund was beside himself. The disappointment was all over his face. "No. I don't accept this. I DON'T ACCEPT THIS!" Arngeir seemed relieved and smiled at this. It seemed some of his teachings were getting into that thick Nordic skull after all. Bringing the Jagged Crown over, Arngeir said, "Unless anyone wishes to contest this decision..." "I do obviously!" said Brund, stomping the ground and knocking the crown in the air. He easily snatched it out of the air over Arngeir's head and grabbed his hammer once more. "If he wants this crown, he'll have to take it from my cold dead hands! You stupid coward, I killed your son! I killed him, and I killed your elven servant too! He died slow, slow and painful by the very same means you introduced to us in Falkreath. Knowing this, do you still refuse me, coward? Fight me, Red-Snow, FIGHT ME!" At that Baldur finally lost it. The cry that escaped him was like that of a dying animal, and made all the worse because he was trying to contain it. The sound was already deafening, let alone in the confines of the stone room. Even Brund held his ears as Baldur's shrieking filled them, affecting his balance. Tears poured from his eyes freely as he ripped off his robe, revealing the refurbished ancient Nordic armor gifted to him by Eorlund Greymane, then grabbed his axe pledged to him by Vignar, and the axe of Riften pledged to him by Ingun respectively. "YOL!" His thu'um flowed from his mouth like a fountain, gathering in his hands. As he baptized himself beneath the flame, his hair caught fire, gathering at the top of his head. "Shor's bones!" Korir exclaimed, and he wasn't the only one. Nearly every Jarl in the room stood in awe of their new king and his crown of flames. But at that moment, only one of them had Baldur's attention. "I used to consider you a shield brother. But what you've done... I can never forgive. You can't take the crown from me, it was never yours to give. But if you wish to die here atop this mountain alongside Elisif, then so be it!!" Farewell my golden lady of Solitude. May you find your dear husband in the afterlife, and your spirit be at peace in Sovngarde. "Legionary Commesitati!" Dales jumped out of her chair, her face wrought with hate and rage. Her hands glowing frost, as she spat, summoning forth a large spear of ice. Her three bodyguards, in perfect sync, drew forth their blades; imperial steel being brought out in the first time in High Hrothgar in the history of the now-free province, as they made their way to their Empress. Dales screamed at the top of her small lungs, "Give the word High King Red-Snow, and we'll help you ********* this prick!" The Bretons stood from their chairs, glowing with arcane protective energy. They backed into the corner with magic ready at their fingertips, but not attempting to interfere, their weapons stayed sheathed. Jeleen and his son both drew their blades as well. "First and only time I've ever agreed with the Imp. Let us help you kill him, Baldur, he's guilty of treason!" said Jeleen. "Now is the time for the leaders of the alliance to stand down, and leave," said Baldur. His tone low and lined with malice. "No one is to lay a hand on him. He is mine, and mine alone. BEGONE! All of you!" "Baldur, please. Not here. Not in our home, not with the Jarls present!" said Arngeir. "If you must, both of you hold this duel atop the Throat of the World. There is to be no more death within these halls, I beg you!" "FINE!" said Baldur. "Fine by me too," said Brund. "I care not where, so long as no one interferes. Certainly not weak milkdrinkers. Your time will come soon enough. First Baldur, then the elves. And then, you." Brund stepped past the Jarls, and then Baldur, who was still looking at Elisif's dead body. He placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "Don't keep me waiting too long, Ash-King. It's cold outside." "Not for long," said Baldur. Brund chuckled, and removed his hand from his shoulder as he left High Hrothgar and awaited their fate. As soon as he left, Dales rushed over to her nordic friend, her hair trailing behind her, "Baldur, you can't fight him! He...feels wrong. So cold. Whatever he is, he's seeped in dark magic. Real dark shit. You're thu'um may not be able to overwhelm him! He'll ******* slaughter you!" Her fists clenched with hate, "Thing is Baldur. I know him. I know his type. It's like a phantom. It ain't just about your pride and even ******* Skyrim. If he becomes king, the Empire is ******* next. And if we're sandwiched between the elves and Skyrim under Brund, we're fucked. We gotta butcher him! "The High King has accepted Brund's challenge," Vignar said to Dales. His tone had become grim, reflecting the expressions of every Jarl in the room. "For better or worse, this must be settled in the old way." "Aye," Korir agreed. "This is his fight, not yours." "We don't take Brund's threats against us lightly," Roland said, dropping his magic and stepping forward. "But we won't intercede, if that is what the Jarls wish. Good luck, High King Red-Snow." Dales icy eyes closed, as she leaned it, avoiding the flaming hair, and whispered A true lord of Cinder. "Are you sure you can win this Baldur? Tamriel is relying on you. This isn't just Skyrim on the line." Baldur nodded. "I do not know the ways of your land, but in this one, we take care of personal matters ourselves. And this just got very personal for me. Aside from that, as Veleda rightly said, my inviting you here was a gamble. On one hand it was a strong hand played to win the seat. On the other, there are some that might think this moot compromised. So how well do you think it'll go if all learn I accepted the help of the Imperials or Redguards for a duel for the throne? Even if my people did not care, I would not have it! He killed my boy!" cried Baldur. "And for that, my hands and mine alone will rob him of life. That is final. This isn't about Nord pride. This is vengeance. This duel, this war. All of it. And that is why I'll win, regardless of his strength. I'm going to show him how I got my namesake. So if anyone has anything to say to me, now is the time." A small smile appeared on her lips, "Kill the bastard then. Take sweet vengeance, and once we've felled the Dominion, and the Thalmor ruined, i'll drink from that same cup. May the gods, Imperial, Redguard, Nord, Beast and even Elf be with you, red-snow." Baldur nodded and waved his arms downwards before bringing his hands back together. "Thank you for the notion Dales. But I'd ask the gods sit this one out for once. These fine axes pledged to me are all I'll need today." Dales chuckled, as she took a step back, and waited beside her bodyguards. Veleda had stared a while at the lifeless body of Elisif, not so Fair any longer, with a defensive spell ready in her own hand. All she wanted was to get her daughter out of here, but in showing up at this Moot, she had left behind a life of hiding and had gotten involved. She didn't realize until then, however, that Sofie had seen everything. The girl had been peeking in at the door, but entered then, going to her mother's side. "Mama, let me come with you. I want to watch the duel." Veleda hesitated, was about to scold, but only nodded once. Her children, Ulfric Stormcloak's children, could never lead the soft lives of nobles. They were all involved. Out of the corner of her eye, the battlemage noticed Baldur in cozy discussion with the so-called empress. Shaking her head, she wondered again what she had done in not trying to expose him. It was too late now. Or maybe the Lady of this mountain would take it into her own hands, now. Dales icy blue eyes went from her Nordic friend, down to the pale corpse of the lovely lady of Solitude. Dales mind blotted out the horrible injuries she had suffered, and painted her over. She was still...so gorgeous. Life ends...isn't it beautiful. It's almost...tragic? Sorrow had finally consumed her. Killed her even Brund swung the hammer, but the woman had charged forward, and fallen. It was suicide in a way. She had taken her own life..just like Dales had wanted too. The Jarl was so similar to her, yet so different. It was funny. She barely knew her...but she knew her. My sweet Empress. Always so selfish. All you wanted was her flesh, and you pretend to understand her. Tsk tsk. My knight... Dales blocked out the voice in the back of her head. Galmar walked up to Elisif's corpse past Dales, not addressing her at all. He spat, and said, "Good riddance. Was long overdue." Continuing on past Veleda and the Jarls, he stood next to the man with the burning hair, regarding him. Galmar's eyes traveled up and down, unsure of what to make of him. The man before him was far different from the minstrel he knew. But then, perhaps he wasn't. "Baldur the Unkindled indeed," he said, this time without sarcasm. "I'll see you when the war starts," he said as he walked past to the hallway, awaiting Veleda. "Aye," was all Baldur said in response. Roland turned to the assembled Jarls and foreign dignitaries. "Given Brund's threats and the dissatisfaction our presence brings, we will be making our way down to Ivarstead as soon as possible. Rest assured, we plan on fighting with Skyrim no matter who is High King, but I would hope those assembled recognize we are your allies and not the enemy, even if Brund does not. Thank you for inviting us, High King Red-Snow." "It was my pleasure," said Baldur. As Lady Gaerhart passed, Baldur said, "I'm terribly sorry you had to be exposed to such a brute. I promise you, we Nords are better than what Brund just demonstrated." "From what I've seen today, I know that to be true. But I hope for the sake of all of us that you succeed," Lady Gaerhart said, a grim look on her face. With that the Bretons gave a slight bow of their heads and left the hall. "Baldur," Vignar started, before correcting himself, "My king." He stood watching him just like all the other Jarls. Though where the others appeared either grim or angry, the old man's expression had gone sad. "I knew of your daughter, but never a son. I am sorry for your loss." "May he drink forever in the Hall of Valor," said Korir, to which many of the others muttered their agreements. Baldur thought briefly to correct them on his racial status... and that pained him almost as much as knowing he got him killed in the first place. "He died a true Nord," said Baldur. "Any man would be proud to have had such a son. His sister will know of him, even if only in song and story." Now it was Baldur's turn to look grim. "Tsun willing, she will hear those songs and stories from the lips of her father," Vignar said with a resolute nod. "Aye," Fenrald agreed. "For what it is worth, after all of that, I do regret my decision to support the man. If you kill him, I ask that you come find me. There is much that still needs to be discussed." "Fine," said Baldur. He wasn't sure what Fenrald had to discuss with him but it was the last thing on his mind. "And for what it's worth, I didn't disagree with what you said entirely, anyway." Preparing to leave, he said, "I'll see you all when this is over. And on the chance that I don't, tell my wife... tell her... tell her they were all out of Juniper berries. And leave it at that." Baldur didn't give them a chance to ask questions. The way he saw it, if after all of this, all that he'd done and put her through he went and died at the hands of Brund, he didn't deserve to be remembered. It would be best if she'd forgotten about him entirely and got on with her life. For Ragna's sake and hers. Veleda followed the Bretons out, leading Sofie. She found Galmar and faced him, almost sheepish. "I know it isn't what you wanted, but for this reason it couldn't have been me. What would you do if it were me facing the duel? You can rest easy knowing you were true to Ulfric to the end. Now go, Galmar. We'll be alright. You have a war to prepare for." Galmar seemed distracted when Veleda started. He put a hand on little Sofie's head, then on Veleda's stomach. "I'm not going anywhere. And in any case, Arngeir just told me we have to stay, in case of avalanches from this damn duel of theirs... I don't know what I'd do if you were challenged. I just... Brund wouldn't try and kill you... would he?" When he collected his thoughts, he said, "I am old, Fire-Hand. This kingdom, it's up to the new generation to protect now. I have no say in what direction you lot go now. What's done, is done. As for being true to Ulfric, well, I don't think I was. Perhaps you were right in the end. Being true to Ulfric means doing what it takes to preserve his legacy. To preserve Skyrim. I support whatever decision you make, because I know you serve that purpose to the end. You have a wisdom I myself do not possess." "Flattery." Veleda tried to smile, though it didn't reach her eyes. "That's right, this will be a thu'um duel, which mean non-Tongues would have a hard time at it." She expected Sofie to protest, but the girl just slumped a little and nodded. "Stay here and try not to wear Galmar out with questions no one can answer." The battlemage had a few of those herself. Galmar looked to Sofie and said, "I never had children of my own. Well, that I know of. It's too late for that now, but if I survive this war, perhaps I can help you raise them. Like a grandpa or something. I need something else to fight for." Vulnerable as she was, Veleda could hardly refuse. She was still a Thalmor target, and the Grim Ones no longer guarded her. In truth she had never felt more alone, and her voice was thick as she replied, "We would be grateful. I hope to find or build a house in Winterhold village. Faralda will let me do some training at the College, and there's no end of enchanting work which is good pay." She glanced over at the jarls milling out of the hall. They appeared dazed, likely from the thu'um. Briefly she wondered who Brund had meant, about Baldur's son, but realized she didn't care. "Alright. I'd best make that climb again. Good thing I can warm myself. Stay here and get some rest, Sofie. Thank you, Galmar." "Mmhm," he said, unsure of if he'd done anything worthy of being thanked for. "Be careful up there if you're set on going." *** As Baldur and Arngeir made the climb, in awkward silence, Arngeir regarded Baldur warily, albeit with softer eyes than before. Baldur noticed but hadn't said anything up until he could no longer concentrate on his own thoughts. "What is it, Arngeir," said Baldur. "Hoping I die so that Ulfric can be avenged?" Arngeir didn't say anything for a time, instead watching the winds of Kyne blowing ferociously against the mountain's peak. The others had already let Brund up... he was waiting for them at that very moment. Perhaps the winds were warning them all to turn back. Finally Arngeir said, "Then who would pay for all the damages of my home?" Baldur would've laughed in other circumstances. Instead, he regarded Arngeir once more, unsure of what to make of his new disposition towards him. "Was Brund's display so bad that you forgot who I am and what I've done? In any case, Brund has the silver to likely remake this place five times over." "I will never accept that silver," said Arngeir. "It wreaks of blood and death." "As does all coin," said Baldur. "Yes, well. I haven't forgotten. And like I said, I'll never forgive you for it. But it isn't my place to. The gods might." "And how is that," said Baldur. "Would I have to start preaching the good word? Perhaps going around Skyrim promoting peace and shouting at the sky for favor?" "Well, you don't need to be a missionary, but you could try staying here," said Arngeir. Baldur stopped in his tracks, placing an arm before him. "Hold it. Are you asking me to become a Greybeard?" "Is that so strange? You obviously have the talent. There's no doubt about that. And though you haven't mastered Tiinvaak Onikaan Uth, you've become proficient in its use. Perhaps too much so." Baldur's confusion only worsened. "How's that?" "Baldur. The thu'um is not like ordinary magic. It is deeply personal. How one lives their life, their outlook, all of these things can affect a word and give it new meaning. So too can it manipulate its affects on others. When you carelessly use a word on the unaffiliated, the results are wildly varied. Especially with a shout like this." Baldur thought back on the first time Arngeir used the shout on him. He'd lost his ability to speak Tamrielic. But he saw the wisdom in it. The reasoning. When he used it on Brund and the other Jarls... the affects, well... he didn't quite understand them. "I don't get it," said Baldur. "When you used it on me, I couldn't speak. When I used it however, Brund could speak, albeit with difficulty. And the Jarls could understand my words, but I don't know that my guests could. They seemed confused. And then Elisif..." "You could speak just fine," said Arngeir. "You were the one preventing yourself from speaking. You didn't want to. Don't you see? This shout, it can't force anyone to do anything. It can only bridge the gap between one's own way of seeing things, and another. It forces the tongue's enemy into their own personal paradigm. From there, whether a person is easily persuaded or not is entirely up to their own strength of will. How impressionable they are also plays a role. You, Baldur for example, are naturally more impressionable than your average Nord. Being a learned man, a scholar." "Ha!" said Baldur, not sure if this were an insult or a compliment. "Well, what about the Jarls? What does that say of them? And why could they only understand me?" "Because they are Nords. They're culturally more open to trying to understand and learn the ways of the thu'um. You may even say spiritually. And your voice isn't strong enough to open that bridge to outsiders. At least not yet. And this is the point I am making. The young Elisif... what you said to her. Do you realize what you've done?" "What I've done?!" said Baldur. "Did you see what I saw? Are you suggesting I killed her?" "No," said Arngeir. "I'm suggesting that you convinced her to commit suicide. She was already on the verge of doing that herself, I could see that clearly. Feel it when she repeated your words. And I got the feeling that she was very impressionable indeed. Wielding the thu'um like that to get your points across, then telling her to 'prove it'? To go see her dead husband?" "Oh," said Baldur. "I think I understand now." "Well good!" said Arngeir. "I should hope so. Baldur, I taught you this thu'um for one reason and one reason only. To counter the violent nature of your first thu'um. Yol Toor Shul. Tinvaak Onikaan Uth was a shout developed by our leader, Paarthurnax, and with it he not only helped to save mankind, he also managed to suppress his own violent nature. This shout if used properly can do the same for you!" Baldur crossed his arms as his eyes narrowed at him. "Well don't get the wrong idea. Elisif, the way she was carrying on was pathetic. In the end she proved herself a true Nord after all. If I helped with that, then good. And it sounds to me like you're trying to suppress me, in general. You ask me to stay here with you to what, make up for my sins? To repent like your old dragon? OR because you fear what I've learned and how I can use it?" "Don't you?" asked Arngeir. "Just look to Brund. Given enough time, you can easily end up like that. Any Nord could. Do you really blame me for fearing the power of the Thu'um, in the hands of careless Tongues? Of course I fear what you've learned, I'm the one that taught you. And Ulfric too, and look how that turned out. You indirectly and now directly, are my responsibility. Whether you agree, or not." Baldur once again after so many of their debates didn't have anything to say. His brow wrinkled and he rubbed his beard while Arngeir walked on without him. This pleased Arngeir. At least he was contemplating his words. And Baldur was indeed contemplating them, although currently not about Arngeir's last point. No, Baldur was doing what he did best. Plotting. Calculating. And wondering now how he could pervert a pacifist shout for battle. "Guess there's nothing left to do but give it a go on the battlefield. Brund, I hope you're ready. Because when this is over, you'll be sending a message to Daric for me on your way to Sovngarde."
  42. 2 points
    Sorry for the wait, had to put in some last minute additions. But it's done now Moot is done, and I'll post the last part, the conclusion which is basically my post tonight if I can't do so before work, wanna clean it up some.
  43. 2 points
    Shadow of War is ******* crazy. Had a ******* awesome nemesis. Bolg, Lord of the Flies. Guy was originally just a dark assassin hired to end my life. He had a horrible fear of insects, so I exploited it, and had a swarm of morgul flies drive him to kill himself. (Fell off a cliff screaming about the "tinies consuming him") Half an hour later, after a lead a guerrilla ambush with some Gondorian guerrillas against a Warchief and his bodyguard patrol, Bolg comes back...but he's now covered in hideous boils, and can control ******* legions of insects, and he's screaming about how he'll feed me to his new "soldiers" (He now has a trait "infested", which lets him summon swarms of flies and spides, and "ambusher" which is a nice way of saying he'll show up in the worst possibe location). Then we have a deathmatch, but the fucker goes Saturday morning cartoon when he's almost dead, and runs away screaming, "i'll be back!" Now i'm worried the asshole is going to come back with more bugs, maybe I should hunt him first. Pretty damn fun.
  44. 2 points
    This is why you should never have a half Breton Redguard The Breton blood will take away his badassness.
  45. 2 points
    We need a good ol' Boldir drawing now.
  46. 1 point
    As for the head jumps and the like I don’t know what you mean specifically though. This in reference to my writing specifically or the switching of characters? edit: switch of style I see you said but head jumps can be me or us. And like I said, I really can’t be bothered with matching styles. Certainly not with four other people. POV is a different story.
  47. 1 point
    Rofl really? I haven’t touched a single one of those games. Besides, Baldur was called Unkindled since the beginning of the RP.
  48. 1 point
    If that’s all he means then I already do that occasionally. But matching my writing style to another’s, no. But anyway to each their own. It just seems like a small thing anyway with so much going on which hasn’t been brought up at all yet.
  49. 1 point
    Just a warning, it's... an unusual shield. lol But good enough that I had Eder use it throughout the whole game.
  50. 1 point
    Yeah it's the smith's quest, not the miller's. Sorry!