Under the Keep, Through a Cave and a Path Chosen… (Part Two)

     After I had changed into the mages’ clothes, I felt a sense of euphoria; this was the first time that I felt that I had chosen the path of becoming a mage. It was becoming apparent that these other Stormcloak warriors also suffered from anxiety as did Ralof, they paced back and forth like wild animals trapped in a cage, they were eager to leave and I was the reason they were being held up. Amusing I thought considering that Ralof told me to check out the room and the cell where the mage was. We continued to travel down the corridor when we reached a vast room. Small bridges interconnected stone, underneath water and dirt connected the bridges, I could hear men running in our direction. Inside were four sentries, they had spotted our group almost immediately and rushed at us. Ralof and the other Stormcloak warriors fought with the other Imperial. Sword and shields clashed, battlecrys filled the chamber. On the upper ledge I could see two archers drawing their bows and aiming at the Stormcloaks. We didn’t stand a chance if I didn’t do something. I sprinted as fast as I could, I crossed over a small stone bridge to where the archers were as they slung their arrows. The archers had already hit the female Stormcloak  warrior with arrows, she fell over dead. Enraged I concentrated my flame spell at the closest archer and let loose a more concentrated blast of fire. I noticed the ground underneath the second archer it looked like there was an oily substance on the ground. I pointed down on the ground and continued to release my flame spell at it, I realized that every time I cast it the spell the easier it got. The flames ignited the oily substance immediately and it burst into firewall of death. The second archer died in seconds, consumed in a wall of flame.  

"Wall of Flaming Dead Archer."

     Casting the magical flame was easier this time, less taxing then the last time. The fact was I was getting stronger every time I cast the spell, it was as if the the robes I had on allowed the magical energy channel through my body differently, better in fact I could tell when I was reaching it limit as well. I felt excited, I was finally gaining understanding with this particular flame spell and I was craving more.We continued out of the chamber and came across a down the path out of the lower dungeon to a bridge that Ralof pulled a lever and it lowered down to another section.  

"Crossing the Bridge"

     After crossing the bridge, a giant slab of stone crushed the path behind us, it cut us off from the other Stormcloaks. It prevented us from backtracking to meet up with them, but also prevented any other Imperials from following us. Ralof yelled to his companions that they would meet up elsewhere. Our temporary party had diminished again to just Ralof and I.

"Escape into the depths."

     We turned and I noticed the last of man made structure stone stairs the rest of the area was water and cave. We dropped through the wreckage and followed the path down the rushing subterranean stream. We followed it as best as possible. The rocks and water made the terrain a bit tricky to walk without slipping. The water rushed down the slopped path when we reached the end the water dropped off the ledge. A torch flickered nearby and we found a skeleton laid out perfectly on the edge. I wondered if someone hadn’t done this with purpose, sending some sort of message to travellers. Maybe it was some twisted trick the Imperials were playing on unwanted guests. Who knew? I examined the skeleton remains to see if there was anything valuable I could use in my continuing pursuit to freedom. I rummaged through his coin purse, I took some gold coins, I didn’t think he would be needing those anymore. His body pointed towards a narrow path, when we followed the path it took us to an opened cobweb filled cave.

Dead Traveler

     This wasn’t good, when Ralof and I hit the thick spider web we heard and saw movement. Five small but huge Frostbite Spiders began to make their way down the web. Ralof rushed into the room, he swung mightily at the Frostbite Spiders the first two went down with ease. As Ralof engaged the arachnids, a humongous Frostbite Spider approached him from behind. I cast my flame spell at it and caught its attention. I began backing away from it as it turned towards me and poisonous venom shot towards me. I barely dodged it!

"I think he just loves to fight...always running off to swing his axe."

     A Nord…loves to kill…I noticed every time we would enter a new room chamber, no words would be exchanged. No thought of what needed to happen. Ralof, would just rush into battle, voicing his battle cry. When he reached his enemies his axe he wielded would swing down upon his enemies, striking anything that moved. He would strike down his enemies with precision and tact. Meanwhile I would try to move cautiously and tactful. I wasn’t remotely a warrior, I was a scavenger, a caretaker a mage in training. These Nords, were strong, powerful, the men and women acted alike. It didn’t matter how dangerous the situation was they seemed more interested in who would be drawing first blood, first.  

"Ralof killer of Frostbite Spiders"

     Before I began to use my flames on the larger Frostbite Spider, this one was tough the flames only pissed it off. In the corner of my eye I saw Ralof, two of the Frostbite Spiders fell fast to his axe while he was fighting the other arachnids. The Frostbite I was battling slung web into my face and I tried to peel it off quickly. The distance was closing off quickly between us, I was scared I raised both my hands and chanted the words of flame this time instead off one flame jetting from my hand, flames were coming out of each the flame was hot and intense and it began to burn down its defenses against my spell of flame.

"One Big Spider."

     It took all my energy to kill the giant Frostbite spider. I slumped to the floor. All the magical energy had left my body and I felt weak from using the magical fire so long. The Frostbite spider had faced its death with vengeance and ferocity. I managed to move out of its fangs of venomous death. I needed to rest a bit. Ralof laughed heartily, “you know we use the venom and the eggs that they lay for medicine to heal our men and we use the poisons to inflict a venomous death to our enemies. I couldn’t have stood up faster, I promptly harvested the venom sacs and eggs for further use and study later, I put them into my knapsack for safe keeping. After I had collected everything I wanted from the Frostbite spiders, Ralof and I continued through the cave. 

Crap I woke the Bear

     Ralof immediately crouched, “Get down,” he said. I bent down and looked to where Ralof pointed. It was a bear. Huge. The biggest bear I had ever seen. “Keep our distance. We should probably sneak past it. Skyrim bears are notorious for ripping limbs from men.” He passed me a bow and some arrows. It felt good to actually have a familiar weapon in my hand, although I hunted primarily with a bow, I felt secure. I notched an arrow and we began to creep along. Careful not to make a noise. The stench of rotting flesh, human and animal could be smelled. My nose tingled and twitched and then it happened. I sneezed. The bear stirred, it tossed its weight over and got on all fours. I drew back the bow, aimed and fired. It struck the bear in its shoulder, it barely penetrated its thick fur. “Oh crap!” I began firing arrows, Ralof joined in and started to sling his arrows. The bear stood on its hind legs then rushed at us, by the time it reached us it had half a dozen arrows in it. The bear was moments away from me, when Ralof dropped his bow and pushed me out of the way. The bear swung at Ralof knocking him down. I drew my bow and shot it in its side. The arrow sank deep into fur and the bear fell. I drew back and focused, held my breath and released another arrow into the beast. Its last breath snorted out its nostrils.  

"Finally escaping the Cave."

     Ralof laughed and said, “your handier with a bow than you are with that evil sorcery magic you have been using.” I laughed along side him, scared out of my mind. I think Ralof was scared to but he would never admit it. “Let’s get going I see the exit,” he said. Thank the divine I thought at least we made it. It was bright at first, it took a minute for my eyes to adjust. The Ralof grabbed at me and said “Get down!” Above us a dragon flew above us, it was freightening as it was magnificent and then it was gone. 

"It all started...with a dragon."

      Ralof and I got up and walked down a winding path, at first he wanted to split up. But like most Nords he just wouldn’t shut up, he talked about some broken ancient ruin on the mountain side. Called it Barrow…something or another, I looked around looking at Skyrim with fresh eyes. It was beautiful, it felt new yet familiar as if I belonged. I dismissed the idea when we came up on what Ralof called the Guardian Stones. I studied the stones for an hour, Ralof patiently waited and told me if I touched one of the stones that my path would become easier.  

Guardian Stones

      I thought about how I was told to search Skyrim for the answers and now it seemed my path was being scripted by the fates themselves. I looked at the wizard engraved on the stone. I knew my path, the wizard reminded me of Cygil. I pressed my hand firmly on the stone. It vibrated at the touch, I quickly stepped away from the stone not quite sure what was going to happen, it lit up the image in a blue outline of the image of the wizard that was etched in the heavy granite. It hummed into a high pitch and as I watched it shot a bright blue light from the top of the stone touching the heavens themselves. I think it was my imagination but the desire to hold my bow fell away and I slung it over my shoulder. Magic was the key and it was my destiny.

"My chosen Path..."

     Ralof looked at me and said something about me choosing the path of a mage and not holding it against me. Afterwords, he suggested that we travel to Riverwood. He talked about the Stormcloaks, he mentioned the ancient and broken structure across the river on the mountainside. He spoke fondly about his sister in Riverwood and how we could rest there for a while. He also suggested that I stay for a while and get to know the people and find out why I should join the Stormcloaks. Maybe Ralof was right. If I could find my bearings in this new land maybe I could find out why Cygil sent me here in the first place. So I agreed and we headed to Riverwood.

 

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