Bleak Falls Barrow
Early the next morning Revak put on his new steel armor and went to meet Lydia near the Whiterun stables. Revak had briefed her on his task the night previous. Like him, she'd already donned her armor. The Jarl had arranged transport for them, at least to the base of the mountain. When she saw Revak coming down the hill she jumped into the carriage bed and waited for him. He joined her, and then the driver began down the path toward the mountains in the distance. The mountain was about a half day's journey away. The rode in silence as the sun rose. It had been an hour before Lydia broke the silence, "Who are you?" she asked, half shouting over the sound of the wheels.
"My name's-" Revak began.
"I know your name," she interrupted.
"I'm Revak," Revak said shortly, ignoring her rude response.
She looked at him, "What kind of name is that?"
Revak shrugged, "I don't know, some sort of lost, deep, meaningful language I suppose. It's not like I chose it." Her scowl grew, "What kind of name is 'Lydia'?"
She looked like she was really trying not to slap him, "It was my grandmother's name, thank you very much, Revkal
"I know what it is," she said curtly. "So who are you that the Jarl sends you on special missions."
Again Revak shrugged, "No idea, maybe just I was in the right place at the right time, that or that I survived Helgen."
They were quiet for a time, and then Lydia looked at him, "What happened there, at Helgen?"
"It was-" Revak shook his head. "One second I'm in line to get my head chopped off, the next I'm running away because a dragon is burning down the village."
She raised an eyebrow, "'To get your head chopped off'? You're a criminal?"
"Then why were you going to be executed?"
Revak sighed, More and more lies, at least I seem to be good at it, "I was traveling from Bruma to Skyrim, but I walked into an ambush meant for a group of Stormcloaks. The Imperials thought I was a Stormcloak, next thing I know an axe is threatening to make me a bit shorter."
They sat silent for the rest of the ride, when they reached the bottom of the mountain the driver left them alone. As they climbed they snacked on a few dry biscuits that the inn keep had given Revak before he left. It was a long and tiring climb; luckily an ancient path still existed for them to follow as they ascended into the sky. Underneath his armor Revak's skin itched, not because it was uncomfortable, it was a familiar feeling before a battle; at least to Revak. He'd felt the same way during the sack of Sancre Tor centuries ago.
The higher they climbed the colder it became; though it didn't seem to bother Lydia at all. Soon the grass was replaced by a decent blanket of snow, and the trees were no longer green. They knew they were close when the reached the point that there were no trees at all. It was then that Revak secured his iron shield to his arm. He advised Lydia to do the same, the ruin was known to be a lure for bandits. Revak didn't want to be taken unawares.
Four hours had passed before they were in front of the Barrow. It was a beautiful, yet terrible, sight. Dozens of stairs led up to a pavilion that was covered with great black arches. The ground was scorched from the many campfires of adventurers that had attempted to conquer the ruin and purge it of its undead and treasures. Looking back at Lydia, Revak donned his horned helm and drew his blade. Lydia drew her blade as well, and they cautiously began to climb the steps. Revak's breath was white as it escaped from under his helmet.
They reached the entrance with no trouble, but they found the doors ajar. "Bandits," Revak breathed. Lydia nodded. Revak rolled his shoulders. "Divines, grant us safe passage, and should we perish, lead us to Sovngarde," he prayed softly. He wasn't sure what would happen if he died. He guessed he'd just wake up back as a god. But the possibility that he would actually die made him nervous. He held his breath as they entered the Barrow.
The entrance was almost cave-like, the ruin having been buried much deeper into the mountain. Revak was staring at the sheer size of the cavern, when he heard Lydia call his name, "Look here," she said. She'd found the only source of light, a small fire was still burning, surrounded by a host of corpses. The kills were fresh, a mix of draugr and what most likely were a few foolish bandits who'd thought to warm up before entering the ruin.
"This is wrong," Revak growled as he scanned the carnage.
"What do you mean?"
"If something killed the bandits, it'd still be walking around," he explained, "but there's nothing here, a bandit survived."
Lydia stared at the door to her left, the one that lead further into the ruin, "And he went inside."
Revak stepped over a dead bandit, "Might as well follow."
Lydia gave him a small smile, she grabbed an unlit torch and lit it using the dying campfire. "Agreed," she said as the torch caught. Revak was grateful for the light as they descended into the ruin. They'd made it one level down, one of most likely many.
Revak caught Lydia give a shiver as they made it into the next level. "What's wrong?" he asked her.
"The walls," she said, reaching out and touching the stone wall, which Revak just noticed was covered in white goo. "Webs," she cursed, "spiders. I hate those things."
Revak tried not to laugh, "Then show them how much you hate them when we run into them." Then he froze. He'd sworn he'd heard something. He motioned to silence. He didn't hear just a noise, it was a voice.
Revak tilted his head toward the sound of the noise, Over there.
Lydia nodded. They made their way down the hall toward the voice; it seemed to be talking to itself. They followed the hall into a large chamber coated in white slime. Egg sacks and large webbing that hung from the ceiling. Across the room there was an Argonian that had been woven into a web, trapped midair. "Damn eight legged bugs," he was cursing. Then he saw Revak and Lydia across the room, "HEY!" he screamed as if they hadn't seen them across the room. "Get me out! Hurry, before they come back!"
Revak almost wanted to ask, Before what comes back?, but he was answered before he even had a chance to ask. A wave of spiders descended upon them, screeching as they landed and launched attacks. Revak assumed a defensive position, his shield side in front as the first few of the spiders attacked him, the first two collided with his shield and Revak knocked them back with ease. One shot a stream of webbing at his head, Revak ducked, but as he did a spider took the opportunity to climb onto is back.
"GET OFF!" Revak shouted as he threw himself backwards and into the wall, smashing the spider that still clung to his armor. Revak repeated to slam himself into the wall until he heard a satisfying screech and the weight fell off his back. He slashed at a spider in front of him, slicing off half its legs, it was screeching as it crawled away on its remaining limbs. Catching his breath he saw Lydia in the middle of the room, fending off five spiders at once as she wielded her sword in one hand and a torch in the other.
With a roar Revak charged the group, quickly dispatching two of the spiders, while Lydia had set another two on fire. The final spider backed away, but Revak chopped it in half before it could flee.
Revak shook the blood from his blade, spattering the wall with a pattern of blood. He dropped his shield and felt his head and the back of his neck making sure there was no blood or bite marks, "Are you okay?" he asked Lydia, who was busy setting the egg sacks on fire.
"I'm fine," she said. She pointed at the Argonian still trapped in the webs, "What about him? Should we leave him there?"
"I can hear you, you know!" the Argonian shouted.
Revak shook his head, "No, leaving him here is wrong. Who knows how many of those things are down here?" He walked over the Argonian. He was of a decent height and wearing leather armor. The green tint to his scales told Revak that he was a younger Argonian.
"I'm going to free you," Revak said as he drew the dagger he kept sheathed at his belt, "and you're going to leave this place and not come back."
"Yes, yes," the Argonian bandit pleaded, "just let me out of here!" Revak began cutting away at the webbing, and in a few minutes the Argonian was free. Revak took a step back as the Argonian stood and brushed himself off, "Thank you stranger," next thing he knew the Argonian had a dagger in his hand, "too bad I have to kill you now."
"Fool of a lizard," Revak heard Lydia curse.
Revak stood tall, "Really? We just cut down a bunch of spiders that you couldn't even defend yourself against, and you dare to threaten us?"
The Argonian shrugged, "It's just business."
Revak sighed, and then he used his open hand to punch the Argonian in the stomach, followed by a hilt to the wrist holding the dagger. The Argonian's blade fell to the ground. Before the Argonian could retaliate Revak had grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the ground. He held the Argonian there for a few seconds, "I'm going to let you down," Revak said slowly, "and you're going to leave, or next time, I won't be so nice."
The Argonian whimpered. Revak lowered him to the ground. Scrambling the Argonian got to his feet and sprinted to the exit. Revak turned and picked up his shield from where he'd dropped it, "I would have just killed him." Lydia commented.
Revak shook his head, "He was nothing but a fool; that shouldn't be a death sentence." He rolled his shoulders, "Come on, let's get this Dragonstone and let's get out of here."
As they walked Revak kept his blade ready and his shield up. Lydia covered his back, her torch lighting the hall and making the walls dance with their own shadows. The walls were lined with multiple little hubs, each containing a standing draugr. None of them were moving now, but they stayed as quiet as possible lest they wake the sleeping dead.
They followed the hall into a small chamber. An altar sat in the middle, and door on the opposite side of the room lead to yet another hall and beyond. They made their way across the room slowly. Revak froze when he heard a soft click coming from behind him. He turned and saw Lydia's face had turned white. Then he heard a growling coming from the hall they'd just passed. Lydia turned and now Revak could see a silhouette in the frame of the hall.
"****," he cursed as he guarded Lydia's side. The draugr carried an axe and charged blindly with it. Revak caught it with his shield, and, spinning knocked the weapon back. He then slashed the draugr, opening its chest. The undead slowed, and then Revak dislodged its head from its body.
Two more draugr came from the hall. Luckily for Revak and Lydia the hall acted like a sort of fatal funnel, preventing both draugr from attacking at once. Lydia set one's arm ablaze with the torch before removing its head. The next one Revak bashed with his shield and then cut almost cleanly in half.
"Thanks," Lydia murmured.
Revak smiled, "You get my back, I get yours right?" She returned his smile.
They followed the next tunnel which happened to lead to the central chamber. A waterfall could be heard across the large cavern like chamber, stairs lead to a large wall and altar that loomed above. If this Dragonstone is anywhere, Revak thought, it's there. Lydia followed him as he climbed the stairs. There was a pedestal, a sarcophagus, and of course a large curved wall with some sort of carvings. Curious, Revak approached the wall. The language written on it definitely wasn't Common. The language of the dragon's covered the wall. Most of it was unrecognizable to Revak, except for three words Revak recognized as a Shout he once knew very well.
Fus ro dah.
Unrelenting Force, the Shout that was said to tear down walls and siege entire cities; of course the words for that particular Shout were here. Revak remembered that each Shout consisted of three words in the language of the dragons. Revak murmured the words to himself, but to no effect.
"I bet the tablet you're looking for is in here," Lydia said behind him. Revak turned, she was pointing to the sarcophagus. It makes sense, he thought.
Revak dropped his shield and sheathed his blade, and then he pushed as hard as he could against the top of the sarcophagus. Heavy as it was it took Revak some time in getting it off. A few minutes later the top slid across and landed on the ground on the opposite side with a thud. Once the dust cleared a heavily decorated draugr was revealed inside. Underneath its crossed hands was a stone tabled covered in the Dragon Language.
Carefully, Revak removed the tablet. As soon as it cleared the area of the body Revak heard a loud growl, and the very air seemed to still. "Lydia?" Revak said softly.
"Can you hold this?" Revak said holding out the tablet. Lydia nodded and took the tablet as the draugr lord rose from the tomb.
It was larger than the other draugr they'd run into. It stood and drew a large battle axe that was black and wicked. Revak picked up his shield and drew his blade, "Divines guide me," he whispered.
The draugr didn't charge instead it seemed to puff its chest. No! Revak said to himself. He was about to tell Lydia to back away when the draugr opened his mouth and Shouted, "RO DAH
Lydia screamed as she flew backwards and landed on her back. Revak stumbled as he was knocked off balance, kept on his feet only because he saw the Shout coming. The draugr lord then charged his blade high above its head. Revak caught it on his shield as it came down. The strike was so powerful it dented the shield; bruising Revak's arm. Cursing, Revak jumped aside as the draugr attacked again, missing Revak by inches.
Revak swung at the monsters' legs, striking its calf. It growled in anger and swung again, and again Revak dodged this time slashing at its other leg as he did so. The draugr staggered and Revak took the opening to slash at its throat. Its head severed from its body and it fell to the ground and started to turn to dust.
Gasping for breath Revak threw his damaged shield down in frustration. He jogged to Lydia and helped her up; "Are you all right?" she nodded, still clutching the stone.
Grabbing Lydia's hand with his uninjured arm, he led her up the stairs and to the secondary exit. They found themselves outside again, the bitter cold greeting them. Happy to find that they were much lower on the mountain than the entrance had been.
Two hours later they had made their way to the base of the mountain where they found the carriage had returned. Revak greeted the driver and helped Lydia board. He couldn't wait to get back to Whiterun.
It was nearly midnight by the time they arrived at Whiterun. Revak and Lydia thanked the driver as they entered the citys' main gate. The streets were quiet as most of its citizens had already went to sleep for the night. Only the tavern seemed to still be alive. It glowed in the night as its patrons drank the night away. Tired and cold, they made their way to Dragonsreach. Revak now clutching the Dragonstone.
The ascended the steps, nodding to the guard as they entered the palace. Revak had thought that he would have to wake the wizard, but as they neared the door he noticed light coming from the room, and hushed voices. Revak held up his hand, motioning for Lydia to stop, and listened to the soft voices coming from the wizards working quarters.
"You see? The terminology clearly is First Era, or even earlier. I'm convinced this is a copy of a much older text. Perhaps dating to just after the Dragon War," the wizards voice said excitedly. "If so, I could use this to cross reference the names with much later texts."
"Good," said another voice, a woman's, "I'm glad you're making progress. My employers are anxious to have some tangible answers." Employers? Revak wondered.
"Oh have no fear," Revak could almost imagine Farengar shaking in excitement, "the Jarl himself has finally taken interest. So I'm now able to devote most of my time to this research."
"Time is running Farengar, don't forget," the woman's voice said sternly. "This isn't some theoretical question. Dragons have come back."
"Yes, yes, don't worry," Farengar said more calmly. "Although the chance to see a living dragon up close would be tremendously valuable..." Farengar trailed off then seemed to have caught himself, "Now, let me show you something else I have-"
"We have a visitor," the woman said quickly, stopping Farengar mid sentence. Blast, how did she know we were here?
Sighing Revak walked in, a faux smile on his face.
"Hmm?" Farengar mumbled, then he saw Revak. He stared for a moment before recognizing him, "Ah yes! The Jarl's new protegé? Back from Bleak Falls Barrow? You didn't die, it seems," he said smiling.
Revak returned the smile, "No, it seems I didn't." Revak held the stone out, "I believe you wanted this?" Revak laid the stone gently on the table in front of Farengar.
Farengar smiled widely when he saw the stone, "Ah! The Dragonstone of Bleak Falls Barrow! Seems you are a cut above the usual brutes the Jarl sends my way," Revak made note not to take that personally.
"My... associate here will be pleased to see your handiwork. She discovered it's location, by means she has so far declined to share with me," Farengar gave a slight glare to the woman. Revak was very curious as to who she and her 'employers' were.
Revak wasn't going to wait for her to introduce herself, "I'm sorry," he said politely, "I believe we haven't met?"
She didn't look up from the stone, "No, I don't believe we have."
Farengar cleared his throat, and turned to the woman, "So your information was correct after all. And we have our friend here to thank for recovering it," he nodded to Revak.
She looked at Revak, and raised her brows, seemingly noticing him for the first time, "You went into Bleak Falls Barrow? And got that? Nice work."
Revak smiled, "Thanks, and Lydia here is to thank as well."
The woman smiled, "You too, Lydia." Lydia bowed slightly, staying silent.
The woman returned to Farengar, "Just send me copies and-"
She was interrupted by Irileth who was literally sprinting into the room, "Farengar!" All of them were silent, "Farengar," she said breathing, as a small group of guards followed her in.
"What's going on, Irileth?" Lydia asked, her face concerned.
"Farengar, you need to come at once. A dragon's been sighted nearby!" she said quickly.
All of them stood there, shocked, "What?" Revak said, almost not believing that Alduin would attack so soon after Helgen.
"A dragon! How exciting! Where was it seen? What was it doing?" Farengar said excitedly, nearly jumping up and down where he stood.
Irileth must have picked up on this, "I'd take this a bit more seriously if I were you," she said shaking her head. "If a dragon decides to attack Whiterun I don't know if we can stop it."
Revak took a few steps forward, "There has to be a way," he said with a hint of a growl, "everything dies."
"Then you'd better come with us."
Revak smiled, "Wouldn't have it any other way."