“Easy now. Don’t move too quickly.” The female voice drifted slowly into her ears. To even move a toe was painful enough, let alone her whole body. Both hands flew up and clutched her forehead, the pain was throbbing against her skull and she squeezed her fists in hopes of getting some ease from it.
“Where am I?” she managed to ask with a dry mouth and lips painfully cracked.
The Stormcloak healer looked over her shoulder toward the patient. “Falkreath Stormcloak camp. You were brought here from Helgen when we found you.” She returned to mixing the potion before creating the next one. “Seems all the camps run short on supplies and potions rank right up there, especially the healing ones.”
Lurren’s eyes flew open when she heard the word “Helgen” and she looked over at the healer. “What do you mean?”
The healer was wiping her hands as she turned around to face Lurren. “Helgen was hit by a dragon, we tried to get there but it was over before we reached the gates. Only you were there in the courtyard, face down in the ground but alive.”
She began fussing with the bedding surrounding Lurren. “Odd thing is no dragon was around, just a destroyed town with some dead bodies and you.” A small chair was pushed forward closer to the bed and the healer sat down upon it. “What happened there?”
Lurren closed her eyes as memories of the Helgen incident soared like a hawk zeroing in on its prey. “Ralof…do you know him?”
“No, sorry, I don’t.”
“He is a Stormcloak and saved my life at Helgen.” She turned her head toward the healer and smiled. “You are the second one and I am grateful to be able to say thank you directly. I wasn’t able to tell Ralof that…” Lurren turned to face the wall hiding her tears.
A hand patted Lurren’s arm softly as the Stormcloak healer spoke, “You are very welcome, my friend. May you find him one day and tell him that in person.” She stood up and pushed the chair back. “Who else was there with you?”
Lurren was trying to sit up and still found it a painful process. “I mostly remember the three in the wagon with me. Some horse thief from Rorikstead named Lokir, they killed him when he tried to run. Ralof and some man named Ulfric, said he was some ja..:”
She spun around quickly and stopped Lurren in mid-word. “ULFRIC?! The Jarl of Windhelm? What are you talking about?”
“Those Imperial people and some general everyone keeping commenting about how tall he is.” Lurren was inspecting her toes to see if she could wiggle them.
“By the nine, this is terrible news!”
“Not really, he isn’t that tall at all so no idea why they think that.” She was now checking each finger to verify their working status. “They only managed to cut off one soldier’s head and if you count killing the horse thief, that is two, however they shot him with arrows.” She looked over at the healer who was staring back at her. “I’m even not a Stormcloak and they were going to execute me without me even being on the list.”
“What happened to Ulfric?” The healer was growing nervous by the minute, as she feared the worst.
Lurren shrugged as she slowly and painfully worked to stand up. “No idea, last order I heard him shout was we had to move. Ralof told me to jump through some hole in the tower and meet him on the other side. Only saw Ralof but not Ulfric. I fainted inside another building when Ralof shouted for me to hide because some Imperial soldiers found us. Apparently I fainted again after going outside and you found me.” Her eyes looked over at the healer. “What happened to Ralof?” She asked without expecting any answer.
The Stormcloak was locked onto the eyes of the stranger she had been caring for the last two days. They were like blue/green ice in color, you felt her drink your thoughts and your soul as they gazed upon you. Shaking her head to be free of the spell, she asked. “Where were you headed before Helgen happened?”
Holding the bed for support, Lurren swayed slightly as she finally stood up. “Riften.”
“Riften? Wasn’t expecting that.” The healer was rather surprised at the answer.
“That’s where my employer said to go, so I go.”
The healer was pulling some fresh, clean armor out of a trunk to give to Lurren. “You should go to Whiterun and speak to the Jarl. Tell him about Helgen and the dragon. He is neutral, hasn’t taken any sides so you will be safe going there.”
Lurren’s eyes flashed with this new interruption into her plans. “Why me? Plenty of people probably told him by now.”
She dropped the armor onto the bed then put her hands on her hips. “Listen, I’m asking this as favor. A favor in return, if you will. Please, regardless if you are the 100th person to tell him, just go tell him anyway.”
“Okay, okay, you talked me into it.” Lurren was looking at the new armor and wondering if she should change into it then head out. “Which way to Whiterun?”
A small knapsack was placed on the bed next to the clothes, “I’m sorry to say, you will need to go back through Helgen and out the other gate.” She looked carefully at the young woman before her. “There is some food, paper, books, quills, etc. inside this. May not be much but hopefully it will help you.” Smiling at her patient, she added. “Riften is east of here. Promise me after Riften, you will go to Whiterun?”
Her mind exploded with pain and the words ‘go back through Helgen’, why would she even want to go back there. She rubbed her eyes with one hand then dragged it down her face. “I promise.” She hated promises, to make them or get them; they were usually lies in the end. She hated them because she never broke one and to not break one makes her obligated. Obligations were for those who needed direction, a duty to nowhere and the heavy burden of another. She ranked promises right up there on her list of things she avoided so this was an exception to her rule.
The healer had her hands on Lurren’s shoulders as she smiled warmly at her. “Thank you and stop by here for a check-up on your way back from Riften” She pulled away from Lurren and gathered up her supplies. “In the meantime, I will try to find some information on Ralof for you. Can’t guarantee any results, but I will ask around. Now I must go speak with the Commander and let him know about Ulfric. We didn’t know about that…” She was opening the tent flap when she looked back then disappeared into the snowstorm without another word.
Lurren stood alone in the large tent, she felt awful and any movement from her body only reminded her system of such. Still she had a job to do and even though her arrival in Skyrim was met with a slight detour, she was back on track. Carefully changing into the Stormcloak armor that included a helmet that hid her face she was ready to leave. Each step seemed to be in slow motion as muscles stretched against bruised areas within her skin.
She blinked at the snow drifting into the tent when she lifted the flap. The cold air snapped at her helmet trying to find any opening to bring its chill inside her warm covering. ‘At least I won’t notice my body being in pain because I will be frozen instead.’ She thought as she stepped into the storm.
The first problem arose when she realized east could be only one of four directions and her compass was nowhere to be found. Tapping the knapsack lightly against her leg, she looked down at it and wondered if it contained a map or compass. Going back inside the tent, she placed the knapsack on a table and opened it.
First reaction was complete shock as she pulled out the small compass. Her compass. In this bag. Interesting. Next, she yanked out the small journal and saw it was her book on bandits from Indigoblade. She glanced at the tent flap, wondering how the healer managed to get this and where she got it. A note fell out of the book that landed at her feet.
Imperial Soldier – (Personal note)
If someone told me this story, I would never believe it except it happened to me. Can’t get anymore real than that, I say. Making notes on this to tell the wife when I get home and don’t want to leave out any details.
We were waiting for the Ulfric and his guardsmen to show up, a sweet ambush it was going to be. My captain ordered another and myself to patrol the roads, just in case some merchants or travelers were headed our way.
About halfway down the road, we discovered a newly erected campsite. I know it wasn’t there earlier since we past by this way to the rendezvous spot. Something caused me to stop sharply in my tracks as we approached; there was eeriness in the air. I swore the sweet smell of lavender filled my nostrils, yet it was definitely more than that but what?
My partner was stepping carefully around the campfire, twigs snapped from his heavy boots and his eyes scanned the surroundings. “What do you make of this? Seems freshly built and no one around.”
“Probably off hunting, can always check again when we come back this way to report in.” I replied with the sense someone was near and I was being hunted.
“Right, though leaving here may not be a good idea either. They may know we are here and leave when we do.” The soldier was poking his head inside the tent, noting some belongings were still there. When the other solider didn’t reply, he quickly turned his head to find a woman standing before them with her bow notched and an arrow dripping of some liquid.
She didn’t say a word as her shadow merged from the trees silently like a bandit looter wishing to avoid detection. I stood frozen and unable to speak as I stared at her eyes. I wondered quietly to myself, “Who is she?”
“Imperial business! Be gone, citizen!” The second imperial soldier barked at her.
Her eyes moved from me to my kinsman while her bow stayed pointing at my chest.
“Citizen, I’m warning you…Imperial business! Be gone!” The solider cried out again with his hand reaching toward his sword.
Her eyes looked back toward me before slumping to the ground, paralyzed from the arrow an Imperial archer shot into her back.
“Damn good shooting!” My partner hollered as he rushed over to the woman and began to prepare her for capture.
I didn’t move for a few moments, just stared at her while the other two chattered to each other about their prisoner. “We shouldn’t arrest her.” My words stunned the soldiers causing them to turn around and face me.
“Are you crazy?” My partner asked. “This could be a Stormcloak spy or tracker, we let her go and first place she’ll go is straight to Ulfric.” His head was shaking no as his words flew out of his mouth.
The archer was putting his bow away when he explained why I couldn’t do that. “Captain said to retrieve you both, word is Ulfric is close and she wants you back at base. She wanted anyone you found brought back as well.” He smiled in that odd way hunters do when they know time is on their side. “That includes her.” Whistling loudly, the archer signaled to the wagon driver, who had been waiting down the road. “Burn this camp and kill that horse.” He ordered while reaching down and pulling her up to head for the wagon.
The other solider began to follow orders and destroyed anything he could by tossing it into the fire. I watched both scenes but my soul wasn’t there, just an empty shell surveying the situation.
“You might like this.” My partner tossed a small leather journal at me. “She’s a tracker, all right and trying to fool others into thinking she isn’t a Stormcloak.” He dropped a little knapsack at my feet before heading down the road. “Better get back now.”
When I opened the small book and saw it was about various bandit clans, I decided my thinking was muddled and the spell was broken. Everyone knows Skyrim doesn’t have a bandit problem and this prisoner was indeed a Stormcloak plant. I grabbed the knapsack and stored the book inside it then fell into step behind the other soldier and returned to camp.
She laughed reading the soldier’s interpretation of the events while she got some answers as to why they arrested her. Stormcloak tracker is about as stupid as her being an Imperial loyalist. No, she didn’t like the Imperials, they started this war with her, threw her life into chaos but she will end it…on her terms. Tucking everything back into the knapsack, she kept the compass in her hand and departed the tent again.
Popping open the compass lid once she was back outside, she had to adjust it due to one flaw – north didn’t work. Sighing as she turned it different angles to get east measured out, she remembered warning Nylus about buying any compass from a pirate captain. He said it was a deal of the lifetime and one she would not regret. He was right on that point, she didn’t regret him buying it since he used his own coin but she regretted it when he gave it to her as a gift. Finally determining the way east, she snapped the compass shut and headed that way. She thought to herself while pushing against the snowfall, ‘Things can only get better from here on out, after all how much worse could it get when one’s head is about to get cut off.’