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Skyrim Story - Before Her Legend: Part 1: Beginning
The snow fell softly upon the night wind. The Guards of Bruma watched deep into the darkness, only seeing the dancing white flakes. Despite being in their padded armor bearing the yellow colors of their city and being the hearty Nords they were, the cold dulled their senses and made them desire home to enjoy a place by the fire and a warm cup of mead. However, not even that stirred them from their vigil.
Though two kept watch over the East Gate, the long nights did nothing to ease the tedium of guard duty. It had been many a night since their blades were tested, not so much as a skeever had crossed their path. The long wait was almost a prison sentence to a Nord warrior.
“Don't you wish you'd had been there?” One of the two guards pointed to a small hill just north of the gate. Though two centuries have passed, the rubble remains of the Great Gate and the Daedric Siege Engine laid there.
He shrugged, “We have this talk every time we're on guard duty.”
“I know, but I can't stop thinking about it. Though many warriors fell, all I ever heard from the elders was that of a glorious battle. One that was fought in the defense of all Tamriel, a battle fitting for the end of a Nord warrior protecting his home.”
“The elders speak of such things all the time. But most weren't born then or were mere babes, I take everything they say with a grain of salt.”
“So Suurootan's word of the battle is not to be trusted?”
“That old High Elf? He's too cheerful for one of his kind. Wouldn't surprise me if he were a Thalmor spy planted here centuries ago.”
“Hold your tongue! He was the one who ordered and arranged the decorations for your home and your marriage to Sifva.”
The second guard rubbed his brow, “Aye, you're right. Forgive me, this is the third long night on watch in a row with nothing but the snow and wind to greet us.”
“Don't fret, I'm sure Talos will send us worthy foes soon.”
Just as those words were spoken, they heard footsteps echoing off the stone road. It was hard to hear over the night winds, but they were close enough now.
Drawing their blades an inch from their scabbards, the pair readied themselves for battle. They now saw the outline of the figure approaching them. It was too small to be an ogre and too big to be a scamp. When it came closer, the details filled themselves out.
A woman wrapping herself in a thick roughspan cloak, she kept her hood up and hid herself as best she could, showing only the roughspan attire that donned her body.
The two guards lowered their weapons and stood up straight.
“Aye, traveler. What be your business in Bruma?”
The woman stopped and looked up, showing them an eerie red eye.
“Just staying the night. I'll be gone by first light.”
The guards looked at each other and nodded.
The first spoke, “Aye, you may proceed.”
With a simple nod, the woman entered Bruma, knowing the eyes of the two guards were upon her until she was out of sight.
This was not her first time in town, she had been here a few times before and headed to the only place in Bruma where one could do business with very little prying eyes.
The sign of Olav's Tap and Tack was barely legible after the long years of being worn down by the snow. Entering the tavern, the woman went unnoticed as she pulled back her hood, revealing she was a Dark Elf.
Her charcoal black hair flowed down stopping just passed the neck. Along both sides of her cranium, the hair was braided into twin strands that met in the back and tied together with a small piece of string, forming a very small ponytail. Her light blue skin was offset by the traditional look of the Dunmeri red eyes. From these eyes were black tattoos as if they always had black tears running down the sides of her face, their tips ending on both sides of her throat.
Going to the bar, she took a seat. Hylfin, the current proprietor, was cleaning a steel stein as the woman caught his attention.
“What's your poison, lady?”
“Cyrodiilic Brandy please. Keep them coming.”
He nodded, putting the stein down on the bar, and popped a fresh bottle of brandy. Filling the stein to the brim, he slid it gently toward her. Taking her drink, she sipped it slowly.
“Anything else, lass?”
“Just a room for the night.”
He nodded, dropping a key in front of her, “The second room on your right, up the stairs.”
She nodded in return, taking a sip of her drink. Judging from when she looked at the sky last, it must have been ten at night. Once she was finished, a second drink was poured. This should keep her thirst quenched for the moment.
“A drink to Talos and Ulfric Stormcloak!”
Though, there was one Nord that had a few too many. His eye took notice of the only woman in the entire tavern. Pulling his hair back, smacking his lips a few times, the drunken Nord tried making himself look appealing as he hobbled to the Dunmer who wasn't in the least bit interested.
“Why, hello there, my gray maiden of the night.”
“I'm not in the least bit interested.” She said, taking another sip.
“A sweet thing like you doesn't come along often, even though you're a Dunmer. Wait, those tattoos...I...I...saw them from some place.”
“They are on many Dunmer.”
“Nah, I remember hearing something about a woman Dunmer, a rumor. They say she caused a lot of trouble for them Thalmor especially down there in Valenwood. She goes here-and-there, leaving Thalmor bodies wherever she goes.”
Thalmor...she knew that name all too well. The name of the ruling High Elf group in the Summerset Isles. They've been causing all manners of atrocities across the provinces, all to end the Age of Men and bring about the Age of Mer once again. She'd know more about them than anyone else on the face of Tamriel.
“Enough.” She firmly spoke.
“What? Not true? You look like the woman the rumors say and we don't see much Dunmer since Red Mountain went kaboom!” He laughed to himself for a moment, “They say she's out avenging the death of her mother. To think some Altmer got it up for such a filthy...gray...”
“Enough!” She grabbed the back of his head and slammed it hard on the bar. The Nord fell on his back, blood gushing from his broken nose.
Hylfin looked over the edge and saw he was still breathing, “He'll live.”
Turning back to the woman who had her drink to her lips.
“I was there, you know.” He softly added.
She paused before she could take another swig.
“I was a legionnaire years ago. I was part of the legion that guarded Emperor Titus Mede II as he escaped the city. I remember many faces of the Eighth legion as I left, they haunt me to this day.”
The Dark Elf downed her drink.
“If it means anything, you look just like her. Drinks and the room are on the house. You needn't worry about being found out, everyone minds their own business here.”
Hylfin walked away, leaving the woman to her drink. As she saw her reflection in the brown amber liquid, her mind thought back to the beginning. The beginning of her life.
It was the 25th of Evening Star(December) of the year 4E 160. Inside a small manor in the center of the Talos Plaza District of the Imperial City, a pregnant Dunmer woman is screaming to the top of her lungs while holding onto the bed posts for dear life. In the room with her were three other people: An elderly Breton woman dressed in simple clothes holding a small vat of warm water, a priestess of Mara readying to receive the child, and an Imperial swordsman leaning on the doorway.
“Push!” The priestess said, the woman doing so.
She looked up for a moment to see the Dunmer focusing all she had to deliver the child.
“Just a few more! Now again, push!”
This time, a scream escaped her lips.
“There, I see the crown of the head. We're getting close now. Antala, put that vat down now, we're going to be needing it in a minute. Again, push!”
The Dunmer screamed again as more of the baby was shown.
“Okay, another big push should do it. Take a deep breath and...push!”
The last scream was such to pierce the heavens. But afterward, the crying of a newborn baby rang out into the world.
“It's a girl! You've given birth to a beautiful baby girl!” The priestess said, carefully lowering the newborn into the vat.
Once she was clean, the priestess wrapped her up inside a blanket.
“Would you like to see her?”
The woman nodded, her smile couldn't get any wider.
The priestess knelt down and gently handed over the baby into her mother's arms. She smiled at her newly born daughter, crying tears of joy as the baby's cries continued.
“May the blessing of Mara, Goddess of Love, be upon this newborn child and may all the Nine Divines make her hardships few and her burdens light.”
The swordsman kicked off the doorway lightly, walking over to the small baby.
“Trust me, priestess. The Nine Divines can blessed this child all they want, but giving her to this woman is bound to be trouble.”
The new mother cradling her daughter, merely smiled at her friend.
The priestess clapped her hands, “Everyone, it is time for the baby's first feeding. I suggest we all go into the common room for awhile.”
The mother raised her head, “Thank you, Lhara for coming from the temple on such short notice.”
The priestess smiled, “Thank the Divines I was in the Imperial City. Normally, I would be in Bravil tending to my duties.”
“Still, you have my thanks. You are welcome in our home anytime.”
Lhara nodded, escorting Antala and the swordsman out of the room. Laying the baby on her lap, the mother slid an arm out of her blouse. Bringing the baby up, she enjoyed her first meal. An hour later, the mother stood up and walked into the next room where the crib had already been built. Once the little girl was placed on the soft bedding, the mother passed on the rattle that she had as a baby.
Getting on her knees, she rested her chin on the wooden railing looking admirably at her baby girl. Watching her look so serene in her sleep, the mother couldn't help but shed a tear.
She heard tapping on the door, turning around to see the swordsman standing there.
“May I come in?”
“You're always welcome here, Petrallus.”
“I'm glad she was born. I only wish...Jerthos was here.”
The mother shed another tear, “Yes...I wish he was here, too.”
“He was the second bravest Dunmer I have ever known, the first being you.”
“I try not to think about it, he didn't have to stay behind.”
“Knowing him, he believed it was the only way. You were wounded, our healer dead, and I was the only one with the strength to carry you to safety. If he hadn't stayed behind, we would all be dead right now, your daughter included.”
“Petrallus, I have...a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?”
“I don't want my daughter to live our lives, but I want her to be prepared for any dangers out there. When she comes of age, I want you to train her in the way of the sword. I will raise her the best I can. Though...”
She felt Petrallus's hand on her shoulder, “Train her as your mother trained you. Your ways of the fist and the bow must not be lost. Besides, it also helps to have a sneak thief like you around.”
“Seeing my baby born wasn't the only reason you're here, is it?”
“The higher-ups wanted you for a mission once you were...uh, clear.” She glared at him, “Hey, their words, not mine.”
“How important of a mission?”
“There are reports of Thalmor spies camped in the woods outside of Castle Chorrol. Our informant believes they are going to steal imperial documents safely housed in there. Our job is to make sure they never return to the Summerset Isles ever again.”
She stroked her daughter's cheek, “Do you sometimes think we should live normal lives and not those of Imperial Agents?”
He looked down at the little girl, “We do it to make the world a better place for everyone especially our children. Come, Emperor Attrebus Mede wants to brief us personally.”
The woman continued looking at her child.
“Derbana, she'll be fine in Antala's care. You do you remember why out of all those that applied, she was the one you hired?”
“Yes, I remember why.”
He looked at the sleeping baby, “Have you thought of a name?”
“I have one already picked out.”
Petrallus chuckled, “You're continuing the tradition, aren't you?”
She nodded, “My mother was the First, I'm the Second, and I promised myself if I had a daughter, she would be Derbana the Third.”
“Very well, her name is Derbana I I I.”
“Not I I I, the Third.”
“Well, that's how it's going to be written on her birth documents. Better for her to get used to all this now instead of coming as a surprise later in life.” Derbana still didn't move from her daughter's side, “I know, she was just born a couple hours ago and you're exhausted, but we need to get to the Imperial Palace immediately, the Emperor is waiting for us and it's two days to Chorrol and another two to come back.”
Derbana stroked her daughter's cheek one last time and stood up.
Petrallus nodded, removing his hand from her shoulder, “We'll be back in four days, I'm sure she'll forgive you.”
“Yeah, but I can't help but to think...This is just the first of many.”
“This is the life we've chosen, the day we took the Imperial Oath. We can't go back on it, not even for the ones we love.”
She sighed, “Yes, I understand. Let's go.”
“If we hurry, we might be back in three days.”
The mother smirked, “Antala! I know you've been eavesdropping this entire time.”
The elderly Breton walked around the corner, “Can you forgive an old lady's indiscretion this one time?”
The new mother smiled, “The first of many, indeed.” She turned to her daughter, her expression turned to one of sadness, “The first of many.”
The two Imperial Agents proceeded on their mission, the mother only looking back to her daughter one last time before walking into the hall and out of sight.
What her mother said became true. As Derbana the Third grew up, there would be times where her mother would disappear. Every time she was home, they would play together and she would raise her daughter as best she could. All the other times, it was Antala who raised her. The young Derbana has never been to the Dark Elf home province of Morrowind and was raised in a more Imperial fashion and rather than that of a typical Dunmeri upbringing.
The year now was 4E 168. In the Imperial City, Emperor Attrebus Mede had passed a few days ago and it was the coronation of Titus Mede II to the Imperial Throne. Citizens from all over the Empire gathered in the Temple District before the Temple of the One, which had been rebuilt following the Oblivion Crisis to completely encase the petrified dragon that was once Martin Septim.
An eight year-old Derbana walked hand-in-hand with Antala. No one seemed to notice them as they blended into the massive crowd.
“Will I see Mommy today?”
“Yes, little one, but she is going to be busy. However, she will be home tonight, this much I can promise you.”
The young Derbana smiled, knowing her mother to be a kind and gentle person when she wasn't away on “business”, which she knew little about.
Before the entire procession, the crowd filled the Temple District. Never before had Derbana III saw so many people from so many different places, it was a fascinating sight for the eight year-old Dunmer and couldn't stop looking at everything. She tried walking on her own, but a tug from Antala reeled her back in.
“Awww, I'm only going to look for a minute.”
“No, I want you to stay next to me, young lady.”
The little girl pouted until she caught sight of the giant doors opening outward from the Temple. The Emperor and the Elder Council stood before the crowd.
One of the Councilors walked ahead of the rest.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Citizens of the Empire, today will be marked upon the pages of history. Before the Temple of the One and before the Sacrifice of Martin Septim, we the Elder Council have crowned Titus Mede the Second as Emperor.”
Derbana tugged on Antala's skirt and pointed to those who stood by the Emperor. On his left side was...
“That's Uncle Petrallus!”
Antala shushed her, “Not so loud! You don't want others to hear you!”
She nodded and whispered, “That's Uncle Petrallus.”
“Yes, it looks like he's been stationed to bodyguard the Emperor this day.”
“Can we get closer?”
“No, we will stay here.”
“Why? What's the matter?”
“Your mother told me to keep you here at this very spot.”
“Because it's for our safety.”
“Because she said so.”
Antala gave her a silent glare, mixed with both anger and the longing to get this over with. The little Dunmer backed down and kept silent as the speech was ending.
“Long live the Emperor!” The Elder Councilor shouted.
“Death to the Empire!” Someone yelled and the crowd went silent.
The person shouting was an Altmer who levitated above the crowd, “For too long has the Empire been a plague upon my people! For too long have those who seen ages pass bow to those who's lives end in an eye's blink. For too long have we been silent! Well, no more! For the Thalmor! For Alinor!”
With a wave of his hand, the simple clothes on the High Elf were magically replaced with the Hooded Robes of a Thalmor Wizard. Many others in the crowd changed into Thalmor armor the same way. Two dozen of these people stood, Thalmor Justicars and Warriors started cutting their way through the crowd toward the Emperor as Thalmor Wizards readied their magic.
Just as their onslaught began, others started fighting them. Antala knew these people to be Imperial Agents placed in the crowd just in case of this.
The High Elf who floated above the crowd, his words of power echoing through the air. He looked with murderous eyes fixated on the Emperor.
“The shortest Imperial reign in history.”
As he threw his spell, a Daedric arrow pierced through his magic barriers and into his chest. The spell fizzling as it left his hand. The Wizard looked down to see it, a second arrow flew unseen and pierced his throat. Losing all life in his body, it fell to the ground with a sickening thud as it crashed.
Only eighteen or so of the Thalmor invaders remained at this point. Petrallus having drawn his Daedric Greatsword, cleaved down any Thalmor that rushed toward the Emperor and in range of his blade. Two warriors approached him, their swords ready.
Petrallus threw his sword down at the closest, splitting the Altmer in two. The other one took this opening and struck, but Petrallus was too quick an opponent and managed to pull away, letting his Greatsword and the dead Thalmor fall to the ground. Quickly drawing his Daedric Longsword from the scabbard at his waist, he parried the next blow and ran the High Elf through.
Derbana didn't know what to think, what to feel. Antala let go of her hand, looking on the scene of battle with sharp eyes. Turning to the little girl, her voice was firm.
“Derbana, hide behind that barrel and stay there until I come for you.” She instructed.
The girl nodded and ran behind where she was told. Hiding behind this safe place, no one noticed the little Dark Elf as she watched.
“Die you, damn man!” A Thalmor Warrior raised his blade to an innocent civilian.
Antala's hand stretched forward and words of power echoed off the wind as a bolt of lightning flew from her fingertips and struck the Thalmor in the back. His blade falling from his lifeless hand, the Warrior fell over dead, a large scorch mark burnt into his back.
Thalmor Wizards noticed the enemy spellcaster and found their way to her, some not paying attention and were cut down by Imperial Agents in their haste.
Derbana watched as two Wizards were all that stood before her, Tears fell from the little girl's eyes as she saw her caregiver outnumbered two-to-one, “No...”
Antala had a cold resolve about her that caused these two to pause before this Breton. Yet one of them gathered his courage and attacked with a series of fireballs. She raised a hand and a cold spray of ice drowned the fire away. A moment later, a large icicle flew out through the mist and in a second, impaled itself through the Thalmor's chest. Watching his comrade die, The other High Elf got angry and threw a bolt of lightning from both his hands. Antala countered with the same spell, neither making contact with their opponent.
“You are strong...for a mortal. Even though, my people had blessed yours with the same gifts for the Arcane, but those gifts flow stronger through my people than it ever will yours.”
“What you say is true. But being short-lived, I had to master magic faster and it is not only Destruction magic I am the master of. Observe!”
She pulled one hand away and yet her spell was still strong as it was with two.
“Impossible!” The Wizard shouting in frustration.
Her free hand stretched to the side, a foul language assaulted the ears of all who listened, a language not meant to be spoken by those of Tamriel. With her spell complete, a blood red circle full of glyphs and runes appeared on the ground next to her. From this magic circle slowly emerged a Dremora. It seemed to float up from the earth until its feet met solid ground.
Her summoned creature was a Daedra, a demon from the realm of Oblivion. This Daedra was the size of a man, but it's skin was a light black with fiery red hair, golden snakelike slits for pupils in his red eyes. He was covered in crimson red full plate armor up to his neck. In both of his muscular hands was a Daedric Warhammer.
Speaking in the Daedric tongue, Antala gave the kill order. The Dremora nodded his head, letting out a bloodthirsty roar as he charged. The enemy Wizard was stuck: If he tried to move, he'd be fried by lightning and if he didn't...
The Dremora leapt into the air, bringing his warhammer overhead. In a flash, the Thalmor Wizard was crushed underneath. The Dremora stood, ready for more opponents and turned to Antala who thanked him in his language. Only receiving a nod again, she dismissed the Dremora who vanished in a whiff of smoke.
Turning to another Imperial Agent in trouble, Antala vanished from Derbana III's sight. The little girl was left alone to behold the battle unfolding in front of her eyes.
About twelve Thalmor remained and half of them were rushing Petrallus to finish off the Emperor. The veteran warrior did what he could against six opponents. An arrow flew from somewhere hidden, killing one of his enemies.
“Derbana! I need you out here!” Petrallus said, fighting off the five remaining Thalmor.
“Huh? Mommy!” She looked around, but saw her nowhere until she was in the midst of the fray next to Petrallus, “Mommy!” Taking one last look to Antala who was busy throwing spells at the enemy, she ran from her cover and toward her mother.
With Derbana II by his side, Petrallus was freed up to kill three of the five. With her bow by her feet, the Dark Elf threw her gauntlet fists forward. All the weight crushing into his throat, her High Elf opponent spat up blood as he fell down dead. Deflecting the sword of the fifth enemy with one hand, she slammed her fist into his temple with another, killing him on impact.
“Is that all of them?”
Derbana II's eyes scanned the battlefield until she saw her daughter.
Her eagle eyes spotted something else. A wounded Thalmor stood up from the ground, bearing his dagger, giving a hobbled chase to the little girl.
The mother looked around frantically and ran to her bow, kicking it up with her feet. Catching it quickly, She notched an arrow from her quiver, took aim, and fired.
Derbana watched the arrow come at her, whizzing past her ear. She froze completely, believing she was struck. Cringing in her frozen state, she didn't see the dead Thalmor that was inches from stealing her life away. All she could see was her mother's eyes. Not the motherly caring eyes she'd always seen, the eyes of a predator like a hawk focusing on its prey. The cold ruthless eyes of one who has taken life time-and-time again.