The word limit is evil, evil I say.
Gods and Sweets
"Let me guess... Someone stole your sweet roll?"
- Skyrim Guard
Ralof and the others watched as the great black dragon flew East over the mountains and out of sight. "There he goes, looks like he's gone for good this time," he said as the dragon disappeared. Ralof was finally able to relax, if only slightly.
Revak stood, "No way to know if anyone else made it out alive, huh?" he said softly.
Ralof shook his head, "No, and this place is going to be swarming with Imperials soon enough."
"Ralof, you and I need to return to Windhelm," Sigrid said as she stood, offering her hand to him. "We have to return to the Stormcloaks," Ralof took her arm and she pulled him to his feet, "they need to know what happened."
"Of course, " Ralof agreed. Their duty was to Skyrim, to Ulfric. They needed to notify Windhelm of the dragon attack. He prayed that Ulfric had made it out alive. "We'll stop in Riverwood first. My sister, Gerdur, runs the mill. We can get some supplies then head to Windhelm." He smiled at the thought of returning home. He had not seen Gerdur since he'd joined the rebellion. She'd be suprised to see him.
They reached the village before the sun set. The village's small stone wall greeted them. For the first time since before he could remember Ralof felt safe. The small town was quiet. Its few residents already returning home for their evening meals or to the tavern to relax. It was a quaint little place, chickens roamed freely, as well as dogs, and a few cattle in their pens. The sound of the river and mill were omnipresent, and the constant rushing sound of the river was relaxing in a way. It was his home. Ralof lay a hand on Revak's shoulder, "Welcome to my home, my friend, " he said. He pointed toward the mill, "Let's find my sister, she should be somewhere around the mill."
Then he headed toward the mill, Sigrid and Revak followed in tow. "Gerdur!" Ralof called as they made their way to the opposite side of the mill. He found his sister with her nose deep in a book. Ralof's heart stopped at the sight of his only sibling, the only thing he had left of his family thanks to the damn Thalmor. She saw Ralof and her face lit with a smile. She ran to Ralof and hugged him, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. She smelled like pine and lavender. "Brother! Mara's mercy! It's good to see you," she cried as she pulled away, "but is it safe for you here? I heard that Ulfric had been captured!"
Ralof smiled, "Don't worry Gerdur. I'm safe, at least I am now."
"What happened?" Gerdur stepped back and seemed to finally notice Sigrid and Revak, "and who's this?" she said as she looked them from head to toe taking in their haggard appearance.
"These are my friends," Ralof said. He pointed to Sigrid, "This is my comrade and fellow Stormcloak, Sigrid," Sigrid nodded, "and my friend Revak, he helped us escape."
"Welcome," Gerdur smiled. "Any friend of my brother is a friend of mine."
"Thank you," Revak nodded, "your welcome is much appreciated." Ralof smiled at Revak. Ralof knew a true Nord when he saw one. He couldn't help but wonder what his story was though. How had he walked into that ambush?
"Well then," she looked at the three, "you three look like you have quite the tale to tell."
Sigrid laughed, "You don't know the half of it."
Ralof pulled Gerdur aside, "Is there somewhere we can talk?" he said in a whisper, "No telling if the news of Helgen has reached the Imperials."
"Helgen?" she said, shocked, "Has something happened?" She looked at the three, when none were forthcoming she stepped back, "You're right, follow me. Just one moment," then she turned, "Hod!" she shouted.
A large Nord man stepped out from beside the lumber mill. Ralof recognized his brother-in-law with a smile. "What is it woman? Sven drunk on the job again?"
"Hod, just come here," she said sharply. Without another word she led him to the group. Hod's eyes grew wide when he saw Ralof.
"Ralof!" he said, shocked, "What are you doing here!?" Gerdur motioned for silence. Without another word she led them to an outcropping near the side of her mill, where the sound of their voices would be drowned by the sound of the river. Hod turned to Ralof and embraced his brother-in-law roughly. "Now, Ralof, what's going on? You three look pretty well done in."
Ralof sighed and took a seat on large rock nearby, relieved to finally sit down. "I can't remember when I last slept..." Then Ralof began his tale, how his Stormcloak caravan had been ambushed by Imperial soldiers, how they'd been taking captive. Every now and then Sigrid would add to the story. Finally Ralof reached the attack at Helgen, "They had us lined up at the headsman's' block, all ready to start chopping-"
"Those cowards!" Gerdur interrupted.
"They wouldn't dare give Ulfric a fair trial," Ralof continued patiently, "Treason! For fighting for your own country! All of Skyrim would have seen the truth then, but then, out of nowhere, a dragon attacked."
Gerdur shook at the word 'dragon', "You can't be serious, a dragon?"
"I can hardly believe it myself," Ralof confirmed, much to Gerdur's apparent dismay.
"As strange as it sounds," Sigrid said calmly, "we'd all be dead if that dragon hadn't attacked when it did. In the chaos we managed to slip away."
"Are we the first to make it to Riverwood?" Revak asked softly.
Gerdur shook her head, "No one else has come up the South road today." Ralof's heart sank. He hoped Ulfric made it out. He cursed himself for not ensuring his chosen king's safety.
Sigrid stepped forward, "We need to lay low, maybe get some supplies for the trip back to Windhelm."
"You all are welcome to stay with us as long as you need to," Gerdur said with a smile, "and are free to take any supplies you need."
Ralof stood and hugged his sister, "Thank you, Gerdur."
With that Hod and Gerdur lead them to their home. They were given bed rolls while Gerdur prepared the evening meal. The smell of cooked beef made Ralof's mouth water. Over dinner they discussed their travel plans, "Let's stay the night, then we can make the journey to Windhelm tomorrow," Sigrid suggested.
"And what of you Revak?" Ralof asked as he opened a new beer, "You're not a Stormcloak, so you don't have to go back to Windhelm."
"I'm not sure. I suppose I am curious as to what's going to be done about this dragon."
"I thought you'd be. Look, I know you don't know us very well, but we need your help." Revak motioned for her to continue, "Riverwood doesn't have a standing guard force. We used to have a few guards from Whiterun, but they were forced to leave because of the Civil War. Whiterun needed all of its guards in case of an attack. But now, with these dragons, Riverwood is in danger." She took a breath, "Would you be willing to go to Whiterun tomorrow and request the Jarl return those soldiers to Riverwood?"
"Of course," Revak agreed, "I will journey to Whiterun in the morning."
Gerdur smiled, "Thank you, Revak, you don't know how much this means to us, to Riverwood."
"It's no trouble at all. I'm glad to help."
At that they finished their meal and prepared to sleep for the night.
Once everyone was asleep Revak opened his eyes. Slowly, he stood, keeping sure that Ralof and the others were soundly asleep. Revak gathered his things and, sneaking, he made his way to the door and slowly opened it and made his way outside. The cold night air bit his face as he made his way around the house and into the woods.
He walked for a time until he reached a clearing. Revak placed his things on the forest floor and stood in the center of the clearing. He gathered some sticks and bark and piled them in the center of the forest. He knelt down in front of the wood pile, and then focused on his inner life force; the magicka within, and using a flame spell his lit the pile, creating a small fire.
Revak sat before the fire, listening the cracks and pops of the flames. Reverently, Revak opened his pack and removed a sweet roll, "For the Divines," he said as he dropped it into the fire. Greedily the flames ate away at the pastry. This was an old custom, giving sacrifices to the Divines, very old in fact it was old when Revak was a young man named Hjalti living in Skyrim. That was before he was even given the name Talos.
He closed his eyes tightly, hoping, praying, that the great dragon would somehow show himself and help him. Instead, the fire glowed softly and the air smelled faintly of burnt cinnamon. He was about to give up when suddenly there was a flash of light around him.
Blinking, Revak found himself in a world of white. He stood, taking in the environment around him. He noticed he was wearing his Divine Imperial Dragon armor. "Where am I?" he asked himself.
"No place in particular," said a deep voice behind him. Revak jumped and turned around, and found himself face to face with an old man in gold robes.
"Akatosh?" Revak said.
The old man nodded. "Yes," he smiled. "You always knew I had a weak spot for sweets."
Revak returned the smile as Akatosh motioned for Revak to walk with him. "What is it that you needed?"
"Guidance," Revak said harshly.
Akatosh stopped and shook his head, "Young Tiber, you know I cannot help you."
"I thought you wanted me to stop Alduin."
Akatosh nodded, "Yes, of course. But you know our rules. You are in the mortal world now, in a mortal body."
Revak cursed, but Akatosh held up a finger, "Language Dovahkiin. We cannot help you, you must help yourself."
Revak scowled, "That's terrible advice."
Akatosh smiled, "Exactly. I can't help you more than I already have. The others will be watching," Akatosh said quickly, "And our time here is nearing its end. Good luck, Tiber Septim."
Attn: Sweet roll? I know.