Skyrim Story - Before Her Legend: Part 3: Her War
Derbana III's training flourished over the years she was to live in Cheydinhal. Unfortunately as her time listening by the window for any news, She was growing stronger as the war was getting worse.
“Bravil has fallen! The Aldmeri Dominion controls southern Cyrodiil!”
“Anvil has fallen too! It won't be much longer until Kvatch falls!”
“Hegathe is the only southern city in Hammerfell still standing.”
“Lake Rumare around the Imperial City is full of warships. Nothing like this has ever occurred before.”
“The Thalmor have crossed the Niben, only the north side remains open to the Imperial City.”
That was the last rumor she heard. Since the Thalmor were now camped a short three day ride from their city, they gathered as a militia and stood at the wall. Derbana had to be more careful about sneaking off at night. However despite the fear the people had, no attack came to Cheydinhal.
Derbana curled up with a pillow, plagued by the one thought she tried drowning out the past two years, “Is my mother dead?”
The news of the losing war with the Dominion brought this fear into her. All she could do was wait and that did nothing but increase the fear. She had to train to drown it out.
Before she knew it, the date was 25th of Evening Star in the year 4E 173. It would be her third birthday in this house and she would be thirteen. Antala knocked on her door with a smile.
“Happy Birthday, Derbana.”
“Thank you, Antala.” She was looking out her window.
“Guess what? I've got a surprise for you.”
She opened the door wider and took a step back.
As if something out of a dream, her mother came around the corner with a smile on her face. She stood up in surprise and ran to her mother who held her hand out.
“You will have to hold your hug until I change, my daughter.”
It was now she noticed the rest. Her mother stood in her Glass Armor covered in Thalmor blood. It was a few minutes before Derbana II was bathed and in clean clothes. After their hug, she smiled just glad that she was with her daughter and she felt the same.
“My, how big you've grown! There is some much I've missed while I was fighting.”
“Mother...The rumors I've been hearing, will the Empire lose this war?”
She looked into her daughter's eyes, “Where have you been hearing such things?”
“The people around town. But what they say, could it be true?”
“I hate to admit it, but things aren't looking good for the Empire these days.”
“If the Empire is losing, can't you just stay here?”
Her mother squeezed her shoulder, “It isn't that simple. I can't just pick up everything and live here. I took an oath, Derbana. When you get to be older, you'll understand.”
Realizing this point was moot, she asked another question that has been on her mind.
“Why didn't you come to my other two birthdays?”
“Truth be told, I almost didn't make this one. It isn't like I didn't want to come, I really did. But I was being sent to where I was needed. Luckily, they reassigned me to the eastern front as part of the Eighth Legion a few days ago and we just destroyed a small Thalmor camp a few hours away. Once the battle ended, I realized what day it was. I couldn't miss my daughter's birthday, now that I could attend.”
Crying into her mother's shoulder, she asked the dreaded question, “How long do I have you?”
“A few hours. I'm sorry I can't see you when you wake...but for now, I'm here.” She hugged her daughter as hard as she would for as long as she could. When they parted, she smiled, “Enough about me. I want to hear about you. How have you been keeping yourself busy these last two years?”
With a small smile, she told her mother everything that happened in their stay at Cheydinhal. Tears ran down her mother's face as her smile turned into a small frown, it was so painful to be away from her only family. Just as Derbana III used training to dull out the pain, her mother used her missions to do the same.
She listened to every word her daughter said, not stopping in her storytelling. She continued into the late hours of the night until she could barely keep her eyes open, wanting to make up for those two years of silence. However, she fell asleep standing up and her mother caught her. This was what she heard, barely conscious as she was being lifted to her bed.
“Thank you for the wonderful night, daughter. I really needed it. You don't know how much I miss you. I love you, Derbana, I'll always love you, remember that.”
“Mommy...” Her last word before slipping into unconsciousness.
This was the last time she'd see her mother again. Antala greeted her in the morning, telling her that her mother left in the late evening. Soon after, the rumors and news kept pouring in as the peasant militia wandered around town.
“In Hammerfell, Skaven belongs to the enemy!”
“Joyous news! Reinforcements from High Rock and Skyrim have been reported! Our Breton and Nord allies have not abandoned the Empire! Huzzah!”
Derbana resumed her training, feeling confident that the Empire was driving back their Thalmor enemies. She had evaded the guards several times and fired arrows into the hay bales until they looked like porcupines. The target dummies were splintered as her strength had increased in these years of training. No longer had she thought about that nightmare two years ago, she knew in her heart she was ready.
However Derbana III was going to be put to the test. She could never forget the date of 13th of Second Seed(May) in the year 4E 174. She sat atop her bed, hugging the pillow as hard as she could against her chest with a look of worry written across her face. The reason she was acting like this was from a rumor she heard outside her window this afternoon.
“The Thalmor have begun assaulting the Imperial City yesterday!”
“If they take it, will this be the end for the Empire?”
“Can you tell us what Legions are fighting?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, the Eighth Legion must be there! They were the ones called back to guard the city.”
“What are their chances?”
“With the Thalmor surrounding three sides of the city at once?...None.”
Derbana was quiet, hugging her pillow as every word of that conversation replayed in her mind. She didn't leave her room and if she did, it was to do her late night training, but her mind was so full of worry that training didn't distract her as it did before. She had tried convincing herself her mother was fine, that nothing could kill her.
“With the Thalmor surrounding three sides of the city at once?...None.”
It was no use. All she could do was pray to her ancestors and the Nine Divines to see her mother return home safely to her. There seemed to be no news for days as the villagers kept to their business, too somber to talk about the battle. Besides, Derbana didn't want to hear any of it, choosing to believe her mother would survive.
A month later, she was buying apples and peaches from the local market. Putting the goods inside a basket, she smiled at the fruit vendor who smiled back.
“That will be fifteen Septims, little miss.”
“Uh, sure. Hold on...” She ruffled through the pouches of her apron, trying to remember where she put the money given to her. Nearby in the next vendor stall, a man leans against the wood counter.
“So, how's it going?”
“It has been three weeks since the Thalmor took over the Imperial City. I don't have any good news about that.”
Derbana froze, the Septims falling through her fingers.
“Uh...miss...” The fruit vendor said, looking concerned at the girl.
Derbana stood still like a statue as this conversation was the only thing she heard.
“How many refugees have you snuck out?”
“Not as many as I would like. Only a dozen at a time the most. Thalmor eyes are everywhere there, I'm just lucky that they don't send many men into the sewers.”
“What are they up to?”
“Mostly celebrating their victory by getting drunk. They haven't had much to do since they looted and lit the Imperial Palace on fire.”
“Miss? Are you all right?”
She shook her head, “Huh? Oh yes, let me pick those up.”
As she picked up her Septims, Derbana listened back in.
“What of the civilians?”
“You don't want to know what they're doing to them. Even worse are what they're doing to their war prisoners.”
The man replied with a small nod, “Most of the Eighth Legion were killed in the battle. Those that survived met with that horrid fate especially for the female Legionnaires. They were probably...” He dipped his head to the side a bit, “before they were killed.”
“NO! IT'S NOT TRUE!” Derbana roared.
“Whoa, what's with the temper, little lady?”
“She isn't dead! She can't be! She just...can't!”
The man got down on one knee to look the crying girl in the eye, “Your mother was a Legionnaire with the Eighth?”
“Just...Just...Go away!” Derbana ran from the market, tears lining a path from where she ran.
Derbana didn't stop running until she was home, opening the door and running into her room without a second to lose. She didn't remember how long she cried, Derbana only remembered the pain of the news ripping through her. It changed her deep inside and all there was was the pain.
Once all her tears were used up, her sadness felt distant. But in its place, hatred blossomed. Derbana's whole body shook as images of Thalmor committing atrocities of all kinds on her mother, scarring her mind and flesh. Inside the small library they had, she found the book she was looking for.
“Dunmeri Tattoos.” She opened to the page of the mourning tattoos.
Taking a moment to look them over and memorize the one she wanted, she found some ink. Dipping her finger into the ink, she felt magic flow into the ink from her fingertip. As far as she could remember, it didn't hurt as the overwhelming hate was her only thought.
When Antala returned home from her day trip of gathering herbs, she was surprised to see the library in such a mess. Though she was more surprised to find her charge on the floor, crying. Ink was splattered all around her as the broken bottle wasn't far.
Antala noticed the book on the table and knew what she was attempting. Dropping everything she got to her knees and rolled Derbana on her back. There she saw it, it was the tattoo almost the same as in the book, but it was only her eyes looking as if they were filled with tears.
“Foolish girl, what have you done?”
“Why...why didn't you...tell me?”
“I...I...only wanted to protect you. You are still too young to understand.”
“Sweetie. When you're older, you will understand, I promise you.”
“Older and older. Why must I wait so long? If I was out there, then I could have helped her. I could have done something.”
“You don't know that! What's the point of all that training if I'm never going to use it?”
Antala chose her words very carefully, she brought her hands slowly around Derbana and held her close.
“I can't say of what will or could have happened. But the one truth I can say for sure, all your mother wanted for you was to be safe. It was the only wish she ever had, the only thing in her heart that she fought for was you.”
The little Dunmer let it all go on Antala's shoulder. It was here that Derbana felt her heart open again if just a little and slowly.
However such things as hatred are not so easily erased. Giving herself the time for her spirit to heal, Derbana waited a few weeks before taking up the bow or the sword again.
It was 25th of Evening Star of 4E 174 when it was the time. She did her best to enjoy her fourteenth birthday to which Antala had made a delicious birthday cake. When Antala went to bed, the teenage girl gathered her gear.
Sneaking out of the house as she's always done, Derbana III went to the training grounds. The hay bales were fresh and so were the target dummies. They must have been replaced just recently. Putting her equipment down, she got ready for target practice. Her bow was in hand, her first arrow notched, and she took aim.
“The Thalmor took over the Imperial City. I don't have any good news about that.”
A painful thought went into her mind and she felt a little angrier. She shrugged it off and took aim once again.
“Most of the Eighth Legion was killed in the battle. Those that survived met with that horrid fate especially for the female Legionnaires. They were probably...” He dipped his head to the side a bit, “before they were killed.”
Her vision blurred as anger was starting to sip its way in. The targets were turning into Thalmor in her eyes. Shaking her head harder, she tried to remain calm and focused on her last birthday, remembering the type of person her mother was. Her mother...her mother...
“She isn't dead! She can't be! She just can't!”
Her own words ripped through her mind as the targets were Thalmor. The warriors readied their swords and the wizards started channeling their spells.
She let her first arrow fly, hitting the wizard between the eyes. As he fell dead, the others came at her. Notching arrow after arrow, she let them fly and watched as the Thalmor were dying in front of her. When the warriors got close, she dropped her bow and drew her sword. Deflecting blow after blow, she remembered all the training she was taught in her short life. After several minutes, she was alone as the Thalmor lay dead all around her.
“You are not ready!” Her mother's voice echoed.
“No...” She looked at the dead faces with not a sign of life, “No, Mother.”
“And it only took you three seconds to turn away from those severed heads. Imagine being surrounded by not hundreds but thousands of dead bodies! You can not come!”
“You're wrong. I am ready.”
As she calmed down, the Thalmor started to disappear from her mind's gaze and she found herself alone in the training grounds.
“I am ready.”
Every night was the same, she imagined being surrounded by Thalmor and how she would slay them. In the hopes of good news, she kept her ears ever listening. There seemed to be nothing other than the rumors of what the Thalmor have been up to.
Four months later, it was the 29th of Rain's Hand(April) of the year 4E 175. Derbana was sleeping in her bed. Then she heard a soft trampling and awoke from her slumber. Donning her armor, she equipped all her gear. Thinking it was an intruder, she stealthily moved around the house. After every room was checked, it was then she realized the noise was not coming from within the house and she realized another fact, Antala was nowhere to be seen.
Poking her head inside her caretaker's room, she saw she was fast asleep.
She thought, “Strange...maybe it's because I have elven ears?” Taking a last look at Antala, Derbana quietly closed her door and snuck out of the house.
The noise didn't come from within Cheydinhal either. Not wanting to be seen by the gate guards, she looked up at the stone wall and waited until the guards had passed. Scaling the stone blocks, she reached the rampart and noticed the guards were still far away. Gazing over the wall, she noticed many men stealthily running down the grasslands around the city. It was hard to tell who they were even in the moonlight. It was until she caught the glimpse of their banner did she know.
“The Imperial Legion?” Her heart jumped for joy as she thought, “That must mean they're here to fight the Thalmor.”
Her golden opportunity had arrived, but the guard was now approaching. Taking one last look at her home, she sighed and climbed down over the wall. She knew what she was doing would break Antala's heart, but this was the only way she could find out what truly happened to her mother. Once her feet met the ground, she carefully turned to see the men were moving on.
Keeping up with them, Derbana hurried and made sure not to lose sight of them. Weaving through the tall grass, hiding behind rock and tree, she noticed they made camp. It was only a mile or two south of Cheydinhal. Despite wanting to help, she could not risk being shown by the fire's light. She knew if she were to reveal herself, she would be kept prisoner or sent home and Derbana wanted neither. Ducking quietly into a small bush, she held up there and prepared to sleep against the nearby tree. It was the perfect spot outside the fire's glow and she could hear the rumors from nearby soldiers.
“So, tomorrow's the day?”
“Yeah, we've waited too long without a good battle and now Talos delivers one right into our hands.”
“I'm hoping Jonna is up to this.”
“She's a fellow Nord, it is the Imperial General I worry about. We and them have not a shared history worth praising.”
“At least, they're men. Not some filthy elf that doesn't understand us.”
“You talk too much, there are many elves within the Imperial ranks and many of them have fought tooth-and-nail for an empire ran by men. I respect them for their courage and bravery.”
“Still, they hold themselves a little too high for my regard.”
“Fair enough, but they are still worthy of sharing a drink with.”
“True, true. Enough of the elves, all Decianus has to do is follow our lead. By the time, the Imperials and Bretons have made their presence on the field of battle known, we'll have already retaken the Imperial City.”
“The most sensible thing you've said all evening.”
His friend stood up, “I'm getting some ale, you want one?”
“Thank you, I'd like one.”
He wandered off as Derbana closed her eyes. Going into this, she knew it wasn't going to be training and needed every bit of sleep she could muster.
The next morning she opened her eyes and it was past first light. Poking her head slightly out of the bush, she noticed the army were already packed and gone. Jumping into the world, she quietly cursed herself for oversleeping. However as she calmed, her elven ears heard something in the distance, the sound of swords clashing together. She hurried toward the sound of battle.
Skulking atop a hill, she looked down to see the battle along the Red Ring Road. The Nords and the Thalmor were fighting each other as smoke and fire could be seen as far away as the horizon on the other side of the Imperial City.
Looking at the carnage below, she gulped. Maybe, she wasn't ready. Then she heard words of power echo off the wind. Her sight quickly turned to a prone Nord Warrior was looked down upon by a Thalmor Wizard channeling a spell.
Drawing her bow and notching an arrow, she took aim and let it fly. Just before the spell could complete, the arrow struck clean through the Thalmor's skull. She retreated from view, only to pop up for a moment to take aim and fire. Soldiers from both sides only saw glimmers of this mysterious archer. Derbana didn't wish to get any closer as she followed the battle south. Keeping her distance, no one could see anything but an arrow flying from seemingly nowhere, piercing the head or chest of any Thalmor unlucky enough to be caught in her gaze. She knew she'd be safe from where she was, the Thalmor wouldn't risk exposing their backs to send someone looking for her.
The day drew to a close and night came, the battle was still being fought. Derbana didn't sleep that night. She only rested when her arms were too sore to fire the bow. But whenever there was a shot to be taken, she took it and the arrow rarely missed its mark. Hours later, it was first light and she kept following the battle.
Atop the highest vantage point, she could see everything even when trouble was coming. Turning to her left, she saw a large contingent of Thalmor troops heading from the south and the west. Breaking cover, she ran toward the battle, risking firing only an arrow or two while doing so. When she felt close enough, she yelled.
“Thalmor reinforcements coming!” Her voice echoed down to the battle below.
She ran into hiding immediately as the Nords got the message. She heard General Jonna shout her orders to brace for the reinforcements. Derbana knew she could help give them a few more moments. Noticing the amount of dead creatures nearby, having been 'cleansed' by the Thalmor. She rummaged through to find a Land Dreugh, which was pretty easy to spot being a large and pretty identifiable creature even from a distance.
She learned from her mother, the wax of a Land Dreugh could be used for a makeshift fire arrow. Dipping a few arrows into its corpse, she got into a firing position, laying the waxed arrows on a rock next to her. She held the first arrow in hand and with a novice fire spell, lit it ablaze. Taking aim, she fired into the fresh reinforcements who were in a nice tight formation. The first was a wizard who's cloth robes easily caught on fire. Frantically swinging about, he spread the flames to his comrades. Igniting the second arrow, she took aim to a formation behind the first and so on until all eight of her waxed arrows were used. Though it didn't killed many, it did stir up confusion and she ran off as they regrouped and no doubt would storm her position.
She got away and hid for a while, not hearing the Thalmor pass must have meant they had gone back to the battle.
“I need to get more arrows. I'm out of steel arrows and running short on iron.” This wasn't practice where she could go up and take the arrows out of her targets. Looking at where the battle was heading, she went behind it and started looting the bodies.
Her smile widened as she counted the arrows and quivers that were at hand.
“Several hundred iron arrows, dozens of steel, handfuls of orcish, dwarven, elven, and even some glass arrows here-and-there.”
She began stockpiling the arrows into various quivers.
“Hey...” A voice said and a boot met her face. Crashing down on her back, she looked up to see a three-man squad of Thalmor standing over her. The same boot that kicked her, stomped down on her chest, and started pressing down hard.
“So, who knew that the archer that's been killing our comrades was nothing more than a Dunmeri girl? Why are you killing us, child?”
She just glared at him with all her hatred.
“Not speaking, eh? You know what? You remind me of another Dunmer...Yes, you're a little young, but the face is almost symmetrical. Yes...remember her?” He eyed to his comrades who snickered evilly.
“What? What do you know of her?”
“Oh, so you do know her. Well, she screamed at first. Days upon days of resisting until...” He smiled, “her female instincts took over and begged for us to...”
“NO! THAT'S NOT TRUE!”
“Oh, but it is. Now don't worry, you are going to share her fate and experience everything she did firsthand.” He maniacally laughed.
Derbana struggled under his heavy boot. It was now she heard a new sound, everyone turned to see one of the warriors with a sword sticking out his chest. A Nord Legionnaire was standing there behind him. The two remaining Thalmor attacked.
Pulling his sword out, he pushed the corpse with all his Nord might and it flew forward, knocking the wizard down and freeing Derbana. As the Nord battled with the warrior, Derbana rolled along the ground and picked up her bow, notching an arrow, and firing it into the eye of the wizard who laid down dead. At the same time, the Nord killed his opponent.
The Legionnaire sheathed his sword as he approached the girl. Derbana didn't know what was going to happen next. He simply smiled, wiping his gloves.
“Well, who would have thought the archer that was helping us was a girl?” He put a hand inside a large belt pouch, “Are you hungry? Here, have some of my rations.” he knelt down and offered it.
She knew he is a Legionnaire, but she was reluctant to take it. However her stomach rumbled, haven't eaten anything in a day-and-a-half, she took the rations and ate them.
He stood back up, “I don't know who trained you, but whoever it was, taught you well. You need to keep in mind that on a battlefield, the enemy could be anywhere, so keep yourself sharp, okay?”
Finishing the rations, she nodded.
He smiled, “Good, finish up here and don't worry, your secret's safe with me.”
“Think nothing of it. I was glad they sent me to retrieve supplies off the dead, so I could be here to save you.” He extended his hand.
With a smile, Derbana took it and got to her feet.
They both looted the bodies for what they needed. She finished scavenging the area before him. In just a few minutes, she got a glass bow, a set of Imperial light armor, an Imperial sword and an Imperial light shield. Quickly getting out of her old gear and donning the new, she ran back into the tall grass and hurried to follow the battle once again.
As she disappeared, the Nord's voice carried on the wind.
“You'd also be worthy to share a drink with, you know?”
She smiled, remembering now he was the same Nord from the camp.
When she got into position, the battle had been drawn into a stalemate as the Thalmor reinforcements skirmished with the encamped Nord Legion. Derbana stayed put and supported whenever the Thalmor attacked. Three days later, the battle lines were in the favor of the Empire.
The Legion led by Decianus and the one led by Jonna meet up and surrounded the Imperial City. Derbana III could not follow without more people finding out she existed. She went westward, following and killing any Thalmor stragglers that were retreating into the West Weald. Days and days of tracking them down led her to the border of Valenwood. With the confusion of the retreating forces, it was easy for her to slip in. This was the start of her own war against the Thalmor.
Then she felt a prod, Derbana awoke in her inn room. Taking a moment, she reared her head and saw an old friend standing there.
“Uncle Petrallus, you made it.”
“Don't seem too surprised, we haven't seen each other in decades and then you call me out of the blue with that letter.”
“Did you get me that report I needed?”
“What, not even a hello?”
“Sorry, I lost my manners killing the Thalmor like the dogs they are.” After a few moments of silence, she shrugged her head, “Hello, Petrallus.”
“Hello, Derbana I I I.”
“Not I I I, the Third.”
He laughed, rousing her anger.
“What's so funny?”
“Your mother said that exact same line the day you were born.”
Derbana went somber and stayed in silence.
He had to ask, “So, did you find out about her?”
“Nothing for sure. I've heard every rumor you could think of: She died a noble warrior in combat, she was captured and tortured to death, she was raped and became a whore for the Thalmor before being killed. Every single one and no person knows the exact truth.”
“Still, I miss her.”
“Me too, every single day.”
Desperate to change the subject, Petrallus commented, “Nice tattoo by the way.”
“These?” She pointed to the completed tattoo, “I made the first part myself the day I found out my mother was killed. The rest of them I entrusted to a Bosmer who does great work, each new section was done for every hundred Thalmor I killed until it reached my throat.”
“Three decades about in Valenwood, I'm surprised you didn't conquer it single-handedly.”
“I wasn't just in Valenwood all those years. I went wherever the Thalmor went, slipping through the borders of Valenwood, Elsweyr, Cyrodiil, and even Hammerfell a time or two. Besides there are still thousands of Thalmor and anyone who would help me were few and far between. Three decades and I'm still no closer to avenging my mother.”
“So, why'd you call me?”
“During one of the rebel operations in Valenwood, the target was a magistrate high up in the Thalmor ranks. He told me he knew my mother's killer, she was a high-ranking official like him. Once he spilled his guts figuratively, I spilled them literally. Seeing as I was the only survivor of that mission, I faded into shadow, snuck into Anvil and sent you that letter.”
“Why meet in Bruma?”
“This is one of the only holds in Cyrodiil that wasn't conquered by the Thalmor during the Great War and so their spies are most likely not here.”
“Anyway, it's a good thing. Here, the report you wanted. I had to bribe tons of people to get that in your hands. Thanks for sending me the gold in that second parcel.”
“All that gold came from selling my armor, weapons, and my family's homes in Cyrodiil. It better be worth it to have this report.”
She took it and read it over. After a few moments, she rose her head from the report.
“It looks like I'm going to Skyrim. That's where she's been assigned to.”
“Good luck, I wish I could go with you, but I got a lot that still needs to be done here. Besides, I don't think you'd want an elderly Imperial swordsman to get in your way.”
“Yep.” Her expression now turned sad, “Can you...tell me just one thing...before you go.”
“I think I can guess what it's about. Antala, right?”
“She was worried about you, but the letter you sent her a year after you left had helped put her mind at ease. I checked up on her now-and-then, she prayed for you every day to the Divines and even to Azura. All she hoped for is you found what you're looking for. She passed in 189, it was peaceful, in her sleep.”
“I promise you, I will find what I'm looking for.”
“You know, take one last bit of advice from me. Whenever you're finished with your revenge, I do hope you let it go and let her go. I hope you find someone and settle down. Trust me, you don't want to be a warrior your whole life and I have the lifespan of a man. It would be much harder for the long life of an elf.”
“Thanks, Uncle Petrallus.” She slapped her forehead in annoyance, “I've completely lost track of time, can you tell me what date is it?”
“Well, it should be about 1:00 AM, 15th of Last Seed of 4E 201. It will be a two day run to make it to Skyrim through the Pale Pass.”
“I better get to it, then.”
As she rose, Petrallus stopped her. “One last last thing before you go.” He hugged her, “Good luck out there, times haven't been easy for any of us and I got a feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better.”
“What makes you so sure all of a sudden?”
“Call it an old warrior's intuition. May the Divines be with you and keep yourself sharp.”
She smiled, “One of my first true lessons in combat.”
“Also in that report, the Thalmor in Skyrim are fresh from the Summerset Isles. I don't think they will give you any trouble.”
“Trouble? The Thalmor never knew my name, anyway. I was just a gray ghost to them.”
“A Gray Angel to us...” Derbana froze when she heard that, “That was the name you were given for your efforts in the Battle of the Red Ring. Some people still remember that.”
She smiled, “You have my word, Petrallus. I will do my best out there and also...I can't explain it. This just feels right somehow.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don't know. But it feels like something deep down inside of me is saying to go to Skyrim, like the land itself is calling to me.”
He laughed, “That's just the call of adventure talking. Your heart is saying you're on the right path.”
“Speaking of paths.”
“Yes, it is time for us to go.” He hugged her again, “I hope our paths cross again, Derbana, and may the road we tread upon be paved with good times.”
She didn't let go, “I hope for that also. Farewell, Uncle Petrallus.”
He wiped a tear aside, “Farewell, Niece Derbana I I I.”
They shared one last smile before they departed. She held her cloak tightly around herself as she prepared to step out into the cold of the Jerall Mountains.
Petrallus was right, two days of running through the bitter cold and she found herself walking out into the end of Pale Pass. However something seemed quite wrong, she stealthily moved along the road and noticed something in the distance.
“An Imperial ambush?” She thought as she saw men in Imperial light armor setting themselves up as a bunch of Nords were walking south into Cyrodiil.
“Damn, this is bad. I can't sneak around nor can I fight off so many without a weapon. Once they spring their trap, I just can't sneak by. What can I do?” She weighed her options silently. When she came to her conclusion, she cursed herself quietly as the only option came to her.
Taking a deep breath, she did the hardest thing she ever had done as a stealth warrior and calmly walked into the ambush and was surrounded by the Imperial Legion. In a vain hope, she opened her mouth to speak over the clamor of the ambush. Before she got out a single word, a Legionnaire sapped her hard from behind and she fell over unconscious.
Not knowing how much time had passed, Derbana awoke in the back of a carriage, her head throbbing wildly. As she tried to focus on the murky voices of the other prisoners, her mind could only remember her goal, the reason she came to Skyrim. The night she said goodbye to Petrallus.
“It looks like I'm going to Skyrim.”
As the voices of the other prisoners became clear and her vision started to return, one thought echoed as she continued reading the report back in Olav's Tap and Tack, the same thought she had now.
“Elenwen...I'm coming for you!”
On the 17th of Last Seed in the year 4E 201 was the beginning of her adventures in Skyrim. Just like her grandmother and mother before her, no one would expect that a Dunmeri woman would go on to become a legend who's many feats in that land would be worthy of song in Sovngarde.
But that story is one for another day. This story was one of beginnings, one of making, of hurt and pain that would later inspire her to stop evil and do what is right. A story that was before she knew what she was, before the Imperial ambush had led her to Helgen, the story before her legend.
To be continued in After Her Legend