Chapter 1: Predator or Prey Pt.1
Oddveig didn't know whether to laugh or to cry...
'Only I could possibly end up in this situation', she thought to herself.
Oddveig was no stranger to getting caught in dangerous situations, situations that she usually ran upon when chasing or tracking prey through the wilderness, as was the case here. Only, most of the time these situations involved stumbling into a bandit hideout, a spitting mad spriggan, or a rogue mage delving into things that ought not be delved in. This particular hunting excursion had landed her in the back of a wagon, bound, weapons and clothes confiscated (and switched with a particularly fetching set of rags), and her prey (the largest elk buck she's came upon in weeks) scampering of to Kyne knows where.
Her day had started off like any other Sundas of Last Seed. Rising before the sun and packing up her meager camp, then finding cover near the edge one of The Rift's many hidden watering holes, this having been between Lake Honrich and the eastern most edge of the Jerall Mountains. It hadn't taken long for the great hunk of venison to come wandering by her blind for a drink. As Oddveig had shifted to draw her arrow, she accidentally rustled the leaves of the shrubbery she was using for cover and the skittish elk had taken off, running southward.
The huntress had been chasing her quarry for a good two miles when the sounds of shouting voices and the ring of metal on metal assaulted her ears. Keeping her bow at the ready, Oddveig crept up a sloping foothill towards the sound of battle. Peeking over the edge of the hill, she could see around twenty or so blue and red armored persons hacking at each other with sword and axe. The blue warriors seemed to be firmly holding their ground against red despite being outnumbered two to one.
'Imperials and Stormcloaks', her heart raced. 'Don't want to get caught up in this mess, Divines forbid, both sides might start swinging at me upon realizing I'm not part of their own company'.
As fleet footed as she could manage, Oddveig moved along the bottom of the embankment in the direction that she had been tracking her elk. As the terrain evened out she came across a path that she recognized as a lesser known road that ran from one of the primary trade routes of Riften, through the far eastern edge of the Jerall mountain range and southward across the border into Cyrodiil. Realizing she had no idea where to begin picking up the elk's trail, Oddveig began following the road northward hoping to find more game along the Rift's larger waterways.
She had only been walking for about ten minutes when she heard the whinny of horses ahead of her. Sighing quietly she scooted into the tree line along the road, intending to circumvent whoever was blocking her way ahead. As she dodged tree to tree, she peeked around to see what was happening along the road. Lined up were half a dozen carriages, each holding an Imperial soldier in the driver's seat. As she observed the Imperials clanking around the road, the shuffle of feet behind her made her spin around, only to end up nose to nose with the end of an arrow. The Imperial attached to said arrow had a sneering expression that was a mixture of glee and anger.
"Stormcloak spy!" The soldier sounded off.
Oddveig's eyebrows shot up at the same time her hands did. "What? No! I-I'm only a hunter!" She spluttered.
"Likely story rebel scum!" Her captor scoffed as his comrades surrounded them both. One Imperial, whose slightly more intricate armor marked him as an officer of some sort, stepped forward.
"What are you doing, skulking around here girl?"
"Not skulking! Hunting." She gestured to her furred garb, bow and pack.
"She was watching the caravan. Getting our numbers to report back to your precious Ulfric, hmm? A bit late for that, our boys have probably already rounded him and your friends up." The lummox still had his arrow pointed directly in her face.
"I was just-" she started.
"Quiet! Take her bow and arrows and search her for any other weapons. We'll leave it up to the General to decide what to do with her." The officer turned and walked through his men and back toward the carriages. As the men around her closed in to detain and search her, Oddveig began to panic. When the first man reached to grab hold of her, in the same movement she jerked sideways and shoved the bow away from her face. The twang of the bow string releasing was followed quickly by a less than masculine scream.
Oddveig didn't have the time to turn around to see what had happened or draw her own weapon, because she was immediately tackled and pinned to the ground by several of the men. She struggled and was able to reach one assailant's arm with her mouth and bit down hard, not letting go until she tasted blood and heard more screaming. With her then freed arm she reached for one of the several knives she kept on her, pulling it from her belt. As brave and tireless as her struggle was it was all for naught. As soon as she had her knife in position to start stabbing, a heavy, clanking boot slammed into her temple, rendering her unconscious.
There was a ringing in Oddveig's ears and a pounding in her head. Disoriented, she slowly pried her eyelids opened and blinked in the harsh light. A pair of blue eyes were the first thing that greeted her. Squinting, she glanced around and took stock of her situation as her memories came rushing back to her. The bindings on her wrists and newly acquired rags itched, the air smelled of horse and unwashed skin, the rocking of the cart she was in was making her nauseous, and her head was still pounding.
Looking back at the other occupants of the cart, the Imperial driving the cart, as well as the blue of both the uniform across from her and the rich garb to her right immediately put things into perspective. She was a Stormcloak prisoner, and she wasn't even a Stormcloak. Judging by seemingly over-the-top parade of prisoner carts, and the noble nature of her green eyed bench partner's baring, Oddveig could tell this was no ordinary raid of a Stormcloak camp by a lucky band of Imperials.
Oddveig didn't know whether to laugh or to cry...
'Only I could possibly end up in this situation', she thought to herself.
"Hey, you. You're finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right? Walked right into that Imperial ambush, same as us, and that thief over there." Blue Eyes engaged her by nudging her foot.
"I wasn't crossing any border, I was hunting when some slap-happy Imperial upstart stuck his bleedin' arrow in my face!" Oddveig spat. A muffled snort sounded from her right, causing her to turn her attention to the green eyed noble that she could very well assume was Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak.
"Damn you Stormcloaks. Skyrim was fine until you came along. Empire was nice and lazy. If they hadn't been looking for you, I could've stolen that horse and been halfway to Hammerfell. You there... You and me, we shouldn't be here. It's these Stormcloaks the Empire wants." The earlier mentioned horse thief whined.
"Shut up back there!" Their driver barked. A muffled grunt came from the Jarl.
"And what's wrong with him, huh?" The thief continued.
"Watch your tongue! You're speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the true High King!" Blue Eyes snapped.
"Ulfric? The Jarl of Windhelm? You're the leader of the rebellion. But if they've captured you... Oh gods, where are they taking us?"
Oddveig thought that this thief had to have been a little slow. He's been arrested by Imperials, then bound and thrown in a cart alongside Stormcloaks, what could he have possibly thought was happening?
"I don't know where we're going, but Sovngarde awaits." Blue Eyes sounded solemn, but his face was a mask of stoic pride. A glance at Jarl Ulfric showed, from what Oddveig could see, a mirror of the same sentiment. As Blue Eyes and the horse thief continued their chatter Oddveig couldn't help but prolong her observation of the Jarl.
Being a foundling and a hunter, she had spent most of her life in the wilderness. Only venturing into towns and cities to sell pelts, meat, and occasionally potions ingredients, and to buy what little she needed that she couldn't find or make for herself. Her short forays into civilization never afforded her many glimpses at true nobility, nor had she cared; something about this particular nobleman struck her as fascinating. Perhaps it was that despite his once beautiful clothing now being as ragged and dirty as all of the other prisoners; he somehow still stood out as a beacon of power.
Oddveig started when that intense green turned and met own amber eyes. The sudden eye contact paired with a shout from ahead caused her to turn her observation from the Jarl back towards her surroundings. The caravan was approaching a small town; Oddveig identified the town as Helgen by its size and the wooden walls surrounding it. Upon this observation, she came to the startling realization that she had been unconscious for far longer than she had first assumed.
"General Tullius, sir! The headsman is waiting!"
"Good. Let's get this over with." As their carriage cleared the gates, Oddveig’s eyes landed on the apparent General in his shiny, intricate armor. Blue Eyes too, was taking stock of their surrounding enemies.
"Look at him, General Tullius, the Military Governor. And it looks like the Thalmor are with him. Damn elves. I bet they had something to do with this. "
As Blue Eyes went on to reminisce on his memories of Helgen, Oddveig uncomfortably shifted her head forward, hair that had come loose from her braid covering her ears. As the carts came to a stop the horse thief began to panic, and as her eyes landed on the executioner so did Oddveig. Her head spun as Blue Eyes reprimanded the thief and an Imperial officer called for the prisoners to stand and exit the cart. Oddveig was the last one off and as her feet touched the ground her knees felt like they were going to buckle.
"Step towards the block when we call your name. One at a time." Hearing this, Oddveig's earlier nausea returned full force, accompanied by trembling in her bound hands. The names being called sounded fuzzy and sort of far away.
"Empire loves their damn lists." Blue Eyes snarked, drawing Oddveig's attention and grounded her slightly.
"Ulfric Stormcloak. Jarl of Windhelm."
"It has been an honor, Jarl Ulfric!" Blue Eyes' solemnity returned.
"Ralof of Riverwood," Blue Eyes stepped forward and Oddveig was met with a strange sense of relief at having learned his real name. " Lokir of Rorikstead." She could have gone another lifetime without having cared to learn his name.
"No, I'm not a rebel. You can't do this!" Oddveig's eyes grew large as the thief took of running.
"You're not going to kill me!"
"Archers!" Oddveig winces as the thief dropped with an arrow through his back. "Anyone else feel like running?"
"Wait. You there. Step forward. Who are you?" Oddveig's eyes jerked away from Lokir's body and turned toward the Imperial holding the list.
"Oddveig, of well... all over Skyrim." She tried to tell him evenly.
"You picked a bad time to come home to Skyrim, kinsman."
Losing her composure slightly, Oddveig tried to reason with him, "But I never left! I wasn't crossing any border; your men accosted me while I was hunting in the Rift!"
He turned to the shiny garbed woman next to him, "What should we do? She's not on the list."
"Forget the list. She goes to the block."
Oddveig scowled in disbelief, her heart slammed in her chest.
"By your orders, Captain. Follow the Captain, prisoner."
Wobbling, Oddveig followed the Captain and stopped in line next to Ralof, focusing on anything other than the headsman's block in front of them.
General Tullius’ sights honed in on the Jarl, "Ulfric Stormcloak. Some here in Helgen call you a hero. But a hero doesn't use a power like The Voice to murder his king and usurp his throne."
Ulfric grunted into his gag, glaring hatefully at Tullius.
"You started this war, plunged Skyrim into chaos, and now the Empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace."
Oddveig was starting to feel a sense of indignation both on behalf of the Jarl and for herself. As someone who had traveled all over Skyrim, spending her whole life exploring every nook and cranny while hunting game, she saw herself as one of the true children of Skyrim. To hear this Imperial lackey wax on about the Jarl's actions like he actually gave a damn about her country, while standing feet away from one of the Empire’s Thalmor puppet masters, made Oddveig even sicker than she already felt. What short memories these Imperial's had, having already forgotten that the Empire itself had fought against the Aldmeri Dominion not so long ago. For Tullius to stand there and scold Ulfric like a child for continuing this fight by trying to remove the Empire's strangle hold on Skyrim, and therefore the Dominion's hold, was almost laughable.
Being part mer herself (though she was certain she was less than half) Oddveig didn’t have the innate hatred of mer or beast races that many Nords had developed due to the hostilities perpetuated by the Dominion. Being raised by a lone wolf of a Nord, whose life had been destroyed by the Dominion and those who bowed to them, she had a healthy suspicion of pretty much everyone around her. This suspicion increased exponentially, however, when it came to anyone that had sympathies with the Dominion or the now weak Empire.
Oddveig hadn't given much thought to joining the Stormcloaks previously, as she wasn't a warrior, but a hunter. Now however, even as she acknowledged that she wouldn't be getting the chance to officially join, Oddveig couldn't help but mentally throw in her lot with the men in blue next to her. If her love of Skyrim and her culture and her hatred of the Aldmeri Dominion, and its annihilation of the cultures of the countries it had already sunk its claws into, weren't already enough to pick a side, listening to the General talk about murder and chaos as she stood here unfairly charged and bound for the block certainly cemented her will in favor of the Stormcloaks.
Oddveig’s rebellious thoughts were interrupted by a hair-raising roar from near the top of the Throat of the World. All heads turned upwards.
"What was that?" List Man’s round eyes frantically searched the sky.
"It's nothing. Carry on." Tullius dismissed.
"Yes, General Tullius. Give them their last rites." The Captain barked.
The Priestess of Arkay raised her hands into the air, "As we commend your souls to Aetherius, blessings of the Eight Divines upon you, for you are the salt and earth of Nirn, our beloved..."
The redheaded Stormcloak soldier to Ulfric’s left had already had enough of the Priestess’ pandering blather, "For the love of Talos, shut up and let's get this over with."
"As you wish." The Priestess seemed insulted. Oddveig smirked.
The sharp-tongued Stormcloak marched forward, kneeled and laid his head on the block. "Come on, I haven't got all morning. My ancestors are smiling at me, Imperials. Can you say the same?"
The executioner’s axe lifted and dropped. As blood pooled on the ground shouts of insult and rage were exchanged between the Stormcloaks, Legionnaires, and surrounding citizens.
“As fearless in death as he was in life.” Ralof quietly praised.
“Next, the Nord in the rags!”
Oddveig could feel the blood leave her face. Inspired by the previous headman’s victim, she shuffled forward as fast as her feet would allow, back straight. A second roar sounded from the direction of the great mountain caused everyone to pause.
“There it is again. Did you hear that?” List Man broke the silence.
“I said, next prisoner!” The Captain dutifully insisted.
“To the block, prisoner. Nice and easy.” List Man still seemed shaken.
Oddveig took a deep breath and continued forward, kneeled in the then lukewarm puddle of blood, and laid her head on the equally bloody chopping block. As she closed her eyes and listened to the shuffle of feet behind her, Oddveig had a thousand prayers running through her head.
‘Goddess Kyne, please guide me to the after-lands of your husband Shor… Ysmir grant me strength to face Great Tsun and gain entry into Shor’s glorious hall… Akatosh grace my spirit with everlasting endurance until The Last War comes, to prove my worth…’
Chapter 2: Predator or Prey Pt. 2
Oddveig's destiny comes for her in the form of dark wings and flame.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Oddveig’s eyes sprung open and darted upwards as a third roar rang out, closer now than ever.
"What in Oblivion is that?" Now even Tullius was panicked.
Oddveig was sitting up on her knees searching the sky with everyone else. She spotted the creature atop the nearest and tallest tower of Helgen just as a Stormcloak shouted, “Dragon!”
She had no time to even contemplate the insanity of that exclamation alone, as a booming shout was not only heard but felt throughout her body and fiery rock began to rain from the sky. Still staring up at the massive black beast that had taken back to the sky, she barely registered the strangled shout of the headsman as he was flattened by a flying scorching boulder.
“Don't just stand there! Kill that thing! Guards, get the townspeople to safety!” Tullius came unfrozen, immediately giving out orders.
Oddveig sprang to her feet as people scattered like mice.
“Hey, kinsman. Get up! Come on, the gods won't give us another chance!" Ralof grabbed Oddveig’s arm and hauled her towards a tower further away from the heaviest concentration of damage. As they ran, Oddveig could hear Legionnaires shouting orders and screaming as they got hit by flaming rock, mixed with the dragon’s booming voice.
“This way, come on!” Ralof still had a hold of Oddveig’s arm as they darted through the door of the tower that was quickly levered shut.
"Jarl Ulfric! What is that thing? Could the legends be true?" Ralof paced towards the Jarl who was standing at the base of the stairs, looking no worse for wear other than a few singes on his clothes.
"Legends don't burn down villages. We need to move. Now!" The Rebel leader yelled in his gravelly voice as he waved his comrades and Oddveig up the steps.
"Up through the tower, let's go!" Ralof was directly behind her as she dogged the heels of the Stormcloak in front of her. Just as they were about to hit the next landing of the staircase, the wall of the tower exploded in rock just feet in front of her, taking out the soldier ahead and sending her reeling backwards from the power of the blast.
“Yol… Toor… Shul!” The dragon screamed fire through the gaping hole.
Ralof grabbed her arms and jerked her back against the wall to shield them both from the flames pouring into tower. The flames stopped and with a powerful thrust of his wings the dragon took flight again. Ralof shoved her to the newly made portal and leaned in to see past her.
"See the inn on the other side? Jump through the roof and keep going! Go! We'll follow when we can!" Ralof shouted by her ear. Oddveig’s eyes widen and she barely had a chance to send a worried look backwards as hands nudged her, encouraging her to jump. She forced herself to stop thinking and gaze forward at the mostly destroyed inn in front of her. She took a deep breath and leaped, sending up another quick prayer, as she dropped like a stone through the roof and onto the top floor of the inn. Knees buckling and unable to catch herself with her still bound hands, Oddveig allowed her body to give a bruising roll forward and back onto her feet.
Oddveig took off down the broken wooden stairs and through the rubble of the inn and out the door, speeding across the courtyard through more rubble, nearly slamming into an Imperial that was shouting at civilians scurrying for cover.
“Still alive, prisoner? Keep close to me if you want to stay that way. Gunnar, take care of the boy. I have to find General Tullius and join their defense." Oddveig realized that this was the guy with the list from earlier. As much as she didn’t want to take direction from one of her captors, he at the very least had a weapon, and she figured if worst came to worst she could trip him and leave him as bait for the dragon.
"Gods guide you, Hadvar." The man that Oddveig assumed was Gunnar addressed List Man. Another name she could have done without.
"Stay close to the wall!" She shuffled along the wall behind Hadvar towards an archway leading to another section of the town. Oddveig practically felt the shadow looming before the dragon landed on the wall above her and Hadvar.
"Yol... Toor... Shul!” More fire raining down across the courtyard sending those fortunate enough to avoid a searing death scurrying. While the dragon was distracted by those fleeing in front of him Hadvar lead her closer to the archway.
"Quickly, follow me!" They ran into Tullius heading in the same direction.
"Hadvar! Into the keep, soldier, we're leaving!"
"It's you and me, prisoner. Stay close!” Just then a dart of blue ran up along side Oddveig. “Ralof! You damned traitor. Out of my way!"
"We're escaping, Hadvar. You're not stopping us this time." Ralof clamped a large hand on Oddveig’s shoulder, already guiding her towards Helgen’s keep. Hadvar glared at the both of them and scowled.
"Fine. I hope that dragon takes you all to Sovngarde!” The Imperial spat and took off after his General.
“Through here, let’s go!" Ralof released her and ran ahead to the door of the tower and darting in, the door slammed shut just after Oddveig cleared it. As Oddveig took in her surroundings, Ralof grabbed a steel war axe from beside a fallen Stormcloak while whispering a few parting words to him, then paced over to her to grab her hands and cut her bonds. She gave a sigh of relief and rubbed her chafed wrists as Ralof pointed towards his slain brother.
“Grab Gunjar’s uniform and anything else you might need from him, he won’t be needing it anymore.”
Reluctantly Oddveig did as she was told. Wrestling the uniform of the poor man took much longer than she would have liked, so she didn’t dally in turning her back to Ralof to strip of the rags she had been forced into and replacing them with the much too large Stormcloak blue garb. Grabbing Gunjar’s second war axe from the floor, Oddveig stepped up beside Ralof as he examined the gated doorway.
“It’s locked, there’s no way to open it from this side, maybe if we…” Ralof cut off as Oddveig shushed him sharply and dragged him out of the doorway. With wide eyes and a gaping mouth Ralof heard what she had previously; the sound of several Imperial uniforms clanking and a woman’s rough voice barking orders coming down the hallway on the other side of the gate. Ralof gave her a nod and they both braced themselves for the gate to open. As they waited, it occurred to Oddveig that she really had no idea how to fight someone with an axe. Her hunting experience only lent her extensive experience with a bow and knives. The few times she had come into hostile situations with humans (or mer) she had gotten away with picking them off with arrows or using her fleet-footedness to sneak away.
Taking a deep breath, she braced herself for a situation she knew would change her life. Hacking at someone with a blade would take a much tougher heart, mind and stomach than picking of vagabonds and woodland creatures with a bow. The gate slammed upwards and with a mighty battle cry Ralof lunged forward landing a bloody blow to the nearest Imperial’s neck. Not allowing herself to second guess, Oddveig leapt out right behind him, taking advantage of the Legionnaires’ surprise. The first blow she landed glanced off the pauldron of the Imperial Captain’s no longer shiny armor.
The woman recovered her bearings quickly enough and drew her sword.
“It’s the Stormcloak prisoners, cut them down!” She shouted at her remaining comrade who was then engage in battle with Ralof.
Oddveig dodged clumsily backwards as the Captain swung her sword, nearly removing her head. As the Captain regained her footing and prepared to charge again, Oddveig made the snap decision to beat her to the punch and ran forward with head and shoulder forward, tackling the sturdy woman to the hard stone floor. The Captain lost her grip on her sword and before she could reach for it Oddveig shoved it away. Straddling the other woman’s waist Oddveig wrapped both hands around the handle of her axe, lifted it above her head and swung downwards with a mad scream, into the Imperial’s forehead. Her opponent gave a few convulsive jerks, then stilled as blood streamed from beneath the axe blade.
As her heaving breath began to slow Oddveig realized that the rest of the room had gone quiet. Forcing herself to look away from the empty eyes of the corpse under her, Oddveig stood and turned, coming face to face with Ralof. After a brief few seconds of him searching her face, Ralof simply gave her a nod then walked over to the felled Captain. He wrenched the axe from her skull, not even flinching at the squelching sound, and held it out handle first to Oddveig. She grabbed the weapon tightly, staring momentarily at the blood soaked blade, then turned and followed Ralof as he marched with a key in hand to the gate that was still locked.
After opening the gate the duo crept along the hallway to a door that lead to what seemed to be a storage room. Upon reaching the door they both heard two more Imperials going over a list of supplies that they need, along with thunking and rustling as they dug through their goods. Oddveig and Ralof made eye contact; Ralof lifted his finger to his mouth in a quieting manner and received a nod in turn. Ralof crept forward first, followed by Oddveig. Upon entering Oddveig saw that, to their luck, both Imperials were leaning over barrels completely unaware of the new occupants in the room. Ralof pointed subtly to the Imperial on the right as their targets continued to chat back and forth to each other. Oddveig, following Ralof’s directive, came up just feet behind her prey.
In the same beat Oddveig grabbed the Imperial’s shoulder, spun him around, and buried her axe into the juncture of his neck and shoulder. The man dropped like a sack of potatoes, gurgling briefly before he slumped over. Glancing at Ralof, she saw that he was equally successful.
“Look around, grab whatever food, potions and supplies you think you might need.” He ordered as he scrambled around, taking his own advice.
Oddveig simply grabbed the pack that her target had been filling. A quick glance showed her that he had filled it about a third of the way with food. Pacing around the room quickly Oddveig searched barrels and shelves collecting more food, a few spare Septims, some spare alchemy ingredients she could sell for more coin later, a couple of health potions, and a decently sharp iron knife. As she glanced around to locate Ralof, something caught her eye. There, sitting on top of a table laid a bow and a quiver full of iron arrows. As if lead by a beacon Oddveig scuttled over to the table and snatched the bow up. Giving it a draw and a glance over, recognizing it as a standard issue Imperial bow, she decided that it would do in the absence of her own beloved hunting bow. Strapping the quiver to her back along with her supply pack, she placed the axe in her belt and with bow in hand she strode over to Ralof where he was waiting by the door.
Continuing together through the keep, the sound of fighting drew them to a room ahead. Nocking an arrow, Oddveig bounded forward, entering the foray first this time. She set her eyes on a battle between two Stormcloaks, an Imperial soldier and what seems to be a robed mage that was shooting lighting from his hands. ‘Torturer’, her instincts provided. Oddveig Immediately took aim at the magik wielder as he was indubitably causing the most damage. Rapidly firing her already drawn arrow she nocked and drew another before she even saw where the first hit. As she took aim again she observed with great satisfaction that her first shot had speared through her target’s head, dropping him in an instant. As she prepared to release her second arrow, the need was diminished as one of the Stormcloaks had capitalized on the Imperial’s shock at his partner’s death and drove her sword through her opponent’s gut.
Oddveig lowered her bow, jumping slightly at a loud and impressed sounding whistle coming from right behind her. Ralof waltzed in front of her and to the mage she had taken out, with eyebrows raised high. After a quick glance over the corpse, he turned to Oddveig with a teasing smirk.
“Impressive aim there friend, I’d forgotten that you’d said you’re a hunter. Ferocious with an axe, down right terrifying with a bow.” Oddveig glances down slightly bashful, but proud at this soldier’s praise.
Sobering, Ralof turned to his shield siblings and asked, “Was Jarl Ulfric with you?”
The male Stormcloak shook his head worriedly, “No, I haven’t seen him since the dragon showed up.”
Sighing Ralof stated, “I’m sure he’ll be along soon enough, let us gather anything else of use and continue on.”
As the others picked up what they needed, Oddveig quietly made her way to the door on the other side of the room and waited. Finished, Ralof took the lead again, heading down a hall lined with barred cells. Glancing in a couple Oddveig spotted completely decomposed skeletons and cringed as they passed by a suspended cage holding the fresh corpse of a man in rags that she assumed was a Stormcloak prisoner. The four of them continued on the path that sloped downwards and changed from masonry to rough hewn rock. The hallway ended at the mouth of a cave from which light poured and shouts and clanks of Imperials could be heard.
Though she was ruefully reminded of they way she was captured, Oddveig snorted softly and whispered, “How do they do anything even a little covertly when they jingle around so much.”
The female Stormcloak giggled softly behind her, “You’re telling us, it’s been an endless source of amusement and eye rolling since this rebellion kicked off.”
Her brother in arms grunted derisively, “That’s why they leave most of the sneaking around to their snooty yellow puppet masters. Bastards.”
Ralof wrangled in the chatter, “Alright weapons at the ready, this is our only way through, we might as well clear the way for anyone coming in behind us as well.”
All four braced themselves and as they all gave him a nod, Ralof took off into the cave, engaging the first Imperial he came across. Oddveig stopped as to hold high ground as the other two engaged the enemy along side Ralof. As her companions were fighting those closest, Oddveig took aim at the other archers who were further away. She fired rapidly taking out Imperials one by one, preventing them from ganging up on or picking off her allies. In what seemed like only a few bloody seconds, the Imperials were all downed and the only casualty on their own side was a weeping gash on the other female’s right arm. As the woman downed a health potion and held her arm out for her shield brother to apply a scrap of cloth to serve as a bandage, Oddveig crossed the craggy cave floor to Ralof who was standing, taking stock of what he could see of the path ahead.
“We’ll stay behind and wait for Jarl Ulfric while Khara’s health potion takes effect.” The male Stormcloak said towards Ralof.
“If you’re sure, we’ll continue on. I’m not sure if any others have made it out another way, news of this dragon needs to be spread and quickly.” Ralof agreed.
“Talos guide you, brother.”
“And you Bjorn, Khara.”
Ralof tapped Oddveig’s shoulder and marched forward across a draw bridge and into another cave. Just as they entered a roar sounded from above, shaking the entire cavern and destroying the bridge that they had just crossed. Reorienting themselves Ralof and Oddveig both glanced back dolefully.
“They’ll have to find another way across, I’m sure they’ll manage, let’s go.” Ralof sighed and continued forward resolutely. Exiting the empty cavern, they followed along a watery, musty path. The path opened up into a smaller cave that contained four frostbite spiders of various sizes that were dealt with swiftly by Oddveig’s bow, with only minimal dodging of flying venom.
Oddveig lead the way into the next cave, keeping an eye out for any other nasty creatures or enemies. As they came up beside a cart Ralof grabbed Oddveig’s sleeve and pulled her down to a crouch.
“Look ahead, there’s a bear sleeping.” He hissed pointing the far side of the cave. “We can either take it out, or we can sneak around it, the choice is yours.”
Contemplating the decision, Oddveig glanced down at the bow and arrow in her hand.
“I don’t think I can take it out with one shot, this bow and these arrows aren’t the finest quality. I wouldn’t want to make it angry and have it charge us in this enclosed space and I certainly don’t want to use melee weapons against a bear.” She whispered back.
Ralof nodded and tip-toed forward, slowly and quietly. Oddveig followed, using her sneaking skills learned from years of practice while hunting. As they passed the still snoozing bear, they were greeted with light shining in through the exit of the cave. Relief flooded Oddveig as they hurried outside, only for it to be shocked out of her as the great black dragon flew directly overhead, roaring as it headed northward. Ralof let out a huffing sigh.
“Whew, that was close. I really didn’t want to face that thing again.” He looked rather pale. “Anyway, if you want, you can come with me. My sister Gerdur lives just north of here in Riverwood, she’ll be glad to take care of us and give us a place to recover. The townspeople should really be warned about what has happened here as well.”
“That sounds good, the Imperials confiscated pretty much everything I owned. A place to stay and replace my belongings would be really helpful.” Oddveig was relieved, the thought of being on her own after the terrifying last couple of days she’d had gave her a sick feeling in her stomach.
“Good, we should stick together. This place is bound to be crawling with Imperials.”
They set off at a brisk pace along the road. As they walked along Ralof chattered quietly about Gerdur and her family. Oddveig found herself feeling envious as she usually did when people talked about not only family, but a place to call home.
Being a foundling, Oddveig never new anything about her birth parents, other than an educated guess as to their race. She was found by a young Nord hunter named Agnarr who had, even at only twenty seven winters, developed distrust and dislike of most other people and therefore refused to leave the girl with anyone else. Agnarr found her abandoned in the forest along the edge of the River Yorgrim in the Pale, just near the border of Eastmarch.
The place that she had been abandoned in had obviously been somebody’s camp not too long before Agnarr happened upon it, judging by the still warm fire remnants. The only other thing left in the camp besides the girl herself, the blanket she was wrapped in, and her teeny tiny clothes was a spear. Though Agnarr searched the area for people, he came up empty as all tracks lead to the heavily used trade route nearby. After picking up the girl and checking her over, Agnarr had fed her some honey mixed in water for some nutrients. He slinked into Windhelm just long enough to buy milk and cloth for his new ward. He returned again to the area in which he found her, but didn’t linger too long as the absence of any sign of struggle told him that the baby had indeed been left on purpose.
Agnarr learned to juggle carrying a baby and supplies along with him while on his hunts. Though the crying and constant worry about whether he was taking care of her correctly wore on him, he soon learned that this little girl had become one of the brightest lights in his entire life. He named her Oddveig, meaning ‘woman of the spear’, not only for the meager contents of the derelict camp he found her in, but also for her tough spirit as Agnarr quickly learned that this tiny creature thrived with him in the wilds of Skyrim.
I've tried to come up with unique names that also fit the story. I've found several meanings of the name Oddveig, but they all seem to mean what I wrote in some way or other. Let me know if I've butchered them completely.