Skyrim: The Dragonborn
“I didn’t know them…”
The language was foreign to my mouth, as was the chill that cut through the hardened pads of my feet. Feet used to the warm sands and grasslands of my homeland in Elsweyr. What I wouldn’t give to be back there now. To bathe in the heat of the sun. To hear the calming hiss of sand over dunes once more.
The hard faces of the villagers looked on at the stone cairns. What wood the little village could spare was used for a fire that heated the frozen ground; to allow shovels and pick-axes to bite into the earth for graves. To be filled with their linen-wrapped fallen.
Life was already hard for this settlement. No high walls to protect itself. The guardsmen that they could spare were fighting in a far-away war. Stony soil that only after years of hard work, produced enough food to survive on.
Looking at the piles of stones, I try to remember something about the people underneath them. I had only been in Rorikstead half a day. My reception was what I had already come to expect from Nords: the usual cautiousness around strangers followed by the prejudices for my people, the Khajiit. The side glances and the venomous spitting of the word “cat” over mugs of mead at the local Inn. Cautions offered by the guard to keep my hands to myself; the unspoken threat of how thieves are dealt with harshly with the sharp edge of axes and swords.
I remembered Lemkil, a farmer, tending his garden while one of his daughters, Sissel played nearby. Reldith and Ennis, across the way, digging at the tough soil with their hoes. Rorik, wandering the village, stopping to offer a story or small-talk to his fellow villagers, while the guard marched around the edge of the holding; an eye out for bandits or deserters from the war.
Then their world had changed with an ear-splitting roar, a quick-moving shadow, and flame.
It had settled on top of Lemkil’s cottage, its wings spread wide, roaring a challenge to all those around. I remember readying my bow, nocking an arrow, and lowered my stance to get a steady aim at the dragon’s head. Lemkil, pushing his daughter aside, stood closest to the beast, holding his hoe in front of him like a spear and shouting to get it’s attention. It was the last time I saw either of them alive. The dragon lept down, large talons digging in the soil, inhaled sharply and brought forth heat and flame. For a moment, Lemkil’s body stood, a dark, frozen silhouette, wreathed in bright yellow and orange. With surprising speed, the dragon’s head reared back, jaw opening wide revealing long sharp teeth, snapped down on the now prone Sissel, her screams of terror, cut brutally short. The local guards arrayed themselves around the scaled terror, shields raised, swords hacking at armour they were not built to pierce. Reldith charged at the dragon’s back with a shovel but was quickly ended by a quick lash of a tail, sending her flying and broken over a stone wall.
The thrumming of my bowstring sent arrow after arrow into the creature’s head and chest, my finger’s bleeding, trying to end it’s life quickly before the village was destroyed. A final elven shaft pierced underneath its jaw, sending the dragon into one final convulsion, before settling torn-up soil of the now ruined field. With one last heavy sigh of breath, the scaled monster began to burn, flesh and scale peeling off, and blowing away as ashes on the wind, leaving only a skeleton behind; it’s soul escaping and filling my body. As it had happened with the last one before.
Where once the village had first looked at me with suspicion, they now looked at me with awe, respect, and a little bit of fear. A “Dragonborn”. A living legend.
Jouane, a healer in the Great War, looked over the dead and, with shoulder’s sagged, let all know that nothing would bring them back. Rorik walked among his people, offering consolation to the grieving, and guided them gently to the Frostfruit Inn to mourn in the northern tradition. The guards offered to stay behind to help the healer with the dressing and removal of the remains.
Where the dead dragon lay, I had started pulling away bone, scales, and what few arrows survived, from the now ashy ruin of the body, laying in the ruined yard.
Rorik clearing his throat, brought me out of the past, and nodded encouragement for me to continue. His life-long friend Jouane stood by silently, eyes closed and head bowed in respect, holding the hand of, the now orphaned, Britte.
“I didn’t know them as you all did. I only know they died protecting what they believed in.”
I gently place the dragon’s skull in the front of the cairns and step back, respectfully, to allow the villagers to say their farewells.
Ennis, tearful, whispering a farewell to his adopted mother, left Dragon’s Tongue blooms on the stones covering Reldith’s resting place.
Britte, stepped forward in-hand with Jouane, silently offering a wreath made of Snowberries placed between the grave of her sister, Sissel, and father, Lemkil.
One by one, the people came forward to offer their tokens, their sorrow, and final words before they were all lead away by Rorik and Jouane.
As they left, I remained looking over the graves, light snow dusting the rock and ground in white, wondering what it meant to be a hero. We all know children stories about how good triumphs over evil but the skalds, and story-tellers never mention the cost. Of the people finding themselves involved in a struggle not of their making. Of the dead laying now, beneath the rocks before me, because of the return of dragons. The very people who I thought I was fighting for in Skyrim.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It was released on November 11, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.