Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Level 2 Part 1

 Prisoner, Breton, Level 2
Sundas 8:52 PM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

The few hours of sleep I manage to steal are not restful. My dreams are raucus, full of screams and the clash of swords. I see in the carnage the faces of those who would have done me harm and those who tried. The faces of those I have ended.

Through the fog of war, voices call to me. I see towering figures of stone watching over me, their words soft and full of  longing. They are beautiful and terrifying. Their power ripples over me, as it had when I first encountered the wolf. Every fiber of my being cries out for answers.Why did I awaken? I must find them. I must know.

I awake in the darkness, my old friend . Sweat coats my skin, whether from the fitful dreams or the dim but warm fire beside me, I cannot say. Night has fallen heavily over the mountains, but the moon shines bright. At the sight, I feel that ache of lonliness return, and with a now easy flick of my hand, I call forth my companion from the nether. He watches me for a long moment, then howls gleefully at the sight of the orb above. The moon fills the dark world with a pale blue glow. I both welcome the sight of the land outstretched before me in the moonlight, and hate the exposure it forces upon me.

The fire beside me is dimming, and a familiar growling comes from my gut. Rising from my bedroll with sharp pains and aches shooting through my body, I pry a few strips of tough meat from the carcass on the cooling spit. With food and soon water, I have some strength to venture to the edge of the woods circling the encampment. I follow the wolf’s swift steps, finally wandering from the safety of my stolen camp, past the cooling corpses of the bandits I felled that afternoon. I am surprised to find the chill in the air refreshing.

It is a short walk in the pale bright moonlight, before my companion and I narrow our gaze on a fox. My aim is getting sharper; I hit it with my first shot. With my new steel dagger, from the bandits’ camp, I free the creature of its snowy pelt. Draping it over my bare shoulders, I bind the dead fox’s legs together to haul it back to my camp. Still warm from its previous owner, the fur fends off much of the cold.

Soon, the fox’s body has replaced the cold animal on the fire spit.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Level 1

(Part II of II)
Sundas, 11:39 AM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

“We'll meet again in Sovengarde, brother.”

I watched the blonde man, Ralof, pray over the corpse of another man in blue-draped armor. Screams and roars still echoed outside the stone tower, but we stand there in silence for what seems like a long minute before he speaks again. Trapped in the tower, with little idea of how to escape the village or the beast Dragon, I am at the mercy of my companion’s whim.   

He tells me to take what I can from the fallen. I find food, and take the blue cloth and mail. The armor hugs much tighter than the rags I woke up in. I cannot move as swiftly as I did before. But they are warm in the dampness of the stone tower. The fruit restores my energy. I tug at the tight mail as I watch the blonde man arm himself with a blade. I wonder what gifts he might store on his person as well. But we are off before I am able to explore the impulse further.

I hide in the shadows when the shouts come. Rattling chains haul up the gate, and two soldiers wander in. Crouched in the dark, I watch as the blonde man lunges for the two, hollering with a bloodlust that makes me cower further into the darkness. The attack from Dragon has left these people savage. Can they not see that there is a greater threat circling above them in the storm clouds?

A lantern crashes behind me as I back into the corner. One of the red soldiers turns quickly at the sound, and catches a glimpse of my face in the lamplight. She bounds at me, leaving her companion to Ralof’s blade. I scramble down the wall to flee, but she reaches me in moments, lifting her sword high above her head. Once, more, death is upon me. I panic. I want to live. I hide behind my hands, desperate to halt the blow. Every ounce of my being focused on the act of stopping my murder.

A shadow in the back of my mind distills my panic and fear into something else; a pure energy of unadulterated willpower. I shall live. I will not succumb. The voices have use for me yet. The room ignites with a blinding blue light, as that energy pounces from my outstretched hands, growing in the blink of an eye into a massive four legged beast. I shield my eyes from the unearthly light of the spectral form just as it smashes right into my attacker, knocking her backwards onto the cold stone. An audible series of cracks fill the air as the beast snarls down at its prey. There is a scream, and a moment later, the stone is coated by a hot stream of blood, and my savior raises its eyes to mine.

A wolf.

Ralof sends the tip of his blade into his foe’s skull as my spirit howls hungrily at the ceiling. At some point in the tumult I seem to have risen to my feet. I stand frozen, transfixed by the creature summoned from my fear. It is my protector, a message from the voices, their power reflected through me.

The blonde man takes only a moment to express awe at the wolf, before he reaches out to tug me by the shoulder. “We have to go. Hurry, this way.”  I watch Ralof hustle down the stairwell, and a whimper cries out in the darkness. I turn in a panic, only to see my protector collapse to the ground in a blinding light of agony, and disappear. Some light leaves my world at his passing, but I am not afforded the time to mourn as the tower shakes and a roar bellows from above. I chase after Ralof down the dim, damp hallway.

Dragon is hunting us, even with the stone of the tower between us. The walls shake and collapse with his rage as we delve deeper into the keep. Ralof urges me to continue collecting supplies, bottles filled with effervescent blue liquid and red elixirs warm to the touch. The growling in my stomach leads me to a firepit. I snatch a chunk of meat from a pot, and burn my hands. I flinch at the memory of Dragon’s heat. I fill my fists with a slice of cheese and some bread.

The tunnel goes on for hours. 

Ralof leads us through the winding stone hallways and stairs, felling any red soldiers that cross our path. The lower passages of the castle lead us to a labyrinth of caves and sewer grates. We follow paths downward into the earth, into massive caves marked by thick forests of webbing. The monstrosities that call these caves home do not take kindly to our presence. Ralof dispatches the giant spiders as I stay to the shadows, crouched out of sight, the memories of my wolf still fresh and painful in my mind. My body aches with exhaustion from the effort. I am unsure I will ever muster the strength to summon him again.

Amidst the ruined keep and the skirmishes, we stumble upon the middle of a fight down in a dimly lit chamber. Ralof seeks out his brethren in blue cloaked armor, but from the shadows I stare out at the cages lining the walls, and still bodies trapped within. Suddenly, I’m back on the altar, carnage and death surrounding me. This is a place of torture. My blood boils at the sight of the well armed, well fed soldiers. The torturers were paid well for their services.

My blood may be boiling, but every other inch of me sparks with a new found fury. It is akin to the energy I felt from fear, but somehow it seems stronger, more solid. That familiar blue glow fills the darkness, and the soldiers look to me in shock. From my hands burst forth another wave of brilliant bright energy, and once more, the wolf spirit dives into the fray. I watch its jaws clamp down on a red soldier’s arm with a mix of relief and terror.

With the dust settled, and the wolf spirit retreated once more, Ralof and I are now allied with three more Stormcloaks, as they call themselves. Just more men with swords. They curse the Imperials, the red mailed soldiers who took us from the woods. I find myself unfeeling to their plight beyond our own survival.

“Grab anything useful and let’s go,” Ralof orders, fitting himself with weapons from the well armed Imperials now dead on the floor of the torture chamber.

I glance down at the robed body at the bottom of one of the cages. As the Stormcloaks rummage through the room for equipments and weapons, one of their band shows me how to access the cage by wriggling a pair of thin metal sticks through the lock. It is difficult and time consuming, though my next few tries are not quite as hard.

Something draws me to the dead man’s robes, an energy surrounds them. I quickly remove the thick, clunky armor from my body, and slip into the hooded robe. It is freeing, no more restrictive than my rags, but most importantly, it is warm. The hood shields my face. I revel in the protective shadow it affords me. With my arms more free, I can lift my hands easily to once more summon forth my wolf. One of the Stormcloak soldiers jumps at the sound of my companion’s howl echo through the room. For the first moment I can recall, I smile. Energy surges through me, seemingly from the very robes I wear. Though I still tread quietly, my footsteps are calmer, more confident. For a glimmer of a moment, I am not afraid.

I sling a discarded knapsack over my arm, and begin to fill the bag with the potions and food stuffing my pockets. One of the Stormcloaks hands me a dagger of cold iron. He must insist for a long moment before I finally take the blade. I glance back to a table, and study the book resting there. On an ebony field is imprinted an all too familiar image: a beast, long and terrible, with a pair of dreadful wings sprawled out. Dragon. I want no more to do with our tormentor. Mere thoughts of the creature make the burns on my skin ache. I leave the book on table without a second thought.

As our now larger group marches room to room in search of an escape, I stick silently to the back of the band of Stormcloaks. They abide my presence with them under Ralof’s insistence. He feels a sort of  kinship with me from our joined fates at the headsman’s block. I share little affinity for anything but the thought of my canine protector. I squeeze my fingers tight as I hear my wolf’s heartbreaking cry from around a corner. I hesitate summoning him again, for fear of causing him more pain.

A final stretch of cave systems bring us to blows with a band of imperial soldiers, no doubt seeking their own refuge from Dragon’s flames in the dark recesses of the keep. The Stormcloaks, with sword raised.

On the body of the last Imperial, I find a bow and weak arrows. At the sounds of battle echoing from several yards ahead of me, I gently tug the bow’s towards my cheek. My hand pulls back with ease. Have I known this before?

The swiftness with which I thread an arrow and send it flying into the shoulder blades of an Imperial soldier seems to answer my question.

Sundas, 01:58 PM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201
Soon, we emerge from the cave out onto the cliffside of a huge mountain. The sun scorches my eyes, it has been hours since I last have seen such light. The world stretches out before me, overwhelming. Overhead, a massive roar sends chills through my body. We hurry behind a line of boulders to watch the dreaded wings of Dragon fly past us. The creature disappears into the distance, behind a mountain.

As the Stormcloaks disband in search of refuge, Ralof offers me sanctuary in his village. The town Riverwood is less than a days walk, and his family will provide me food and shelter. I am almost tempted to take the offer, were it not for the town being in the path last flown by Dragon. My true companion soon howls at the western sky. I follow his gaze to the treetops. It is to the woods we must go. I take my first step into this new realm, Skyrim.

In the back of my mind, I can hear the voices call to me.

Sundas, 04:45 PM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201
First few hours of my trek through the wood are silent, peaceful. I am warm in my robes, and underneath the last hours of sunlight. I continue to summon my companion from his realm to mine, and he watches me silently, leaping ahead every few minutes to lead me further west. Whenever I hear that whimper of agony, and he is gone, I am struck with the most profound sadness. I cannot go long without the sounds of his paws padding behind me, and I quickly call him forth from the void once more.  His howl is the sound of safety. Of true companionship.

A rustling in the brush gives way to a massic horned animal, grazing on the lichen and grasses clinging to the rocky soil. My wolf take little account of the elk, but hunger soon takes hold of me, almost as great as my weakness to the cold had once been. The food I’d gathered from the keep did not last long as I had started this journey. I carry fewer arrows than I’d like, but if I am to eat, I suppose I must hunt. I crouch in the shadows of a bush, studying what I hope to soon be a meal. Lifting my bow to my cheek, I loose an arrow. Several yards away, it strikes a tree. The beast lifts its head at the sound, and after a moment, bolts away from me.

I leap from my hiding place and sprint to the tree, tugging out my arrow. My wolf is close on my heels, less interested by the quarry than my own run. I chase after the elk for several moments, before it slows in exhaustion. I keep my distance, yards away, and slowly prepare another arrow. It strikes the animal’s hide, but the pain merely sets it running once more. I get a second strike into the beast, but it only flees faster, taking with it two of my precious few iron arrows.

We wander in the direction of the elk’s path, my stomach churning with hunger pains. I walk silently along the side of the mountain, keeping one solid barrier between me and the burning village where I was to perish. The mountain begins to cast a long shadow as dusk nears. My wolf sniffs at something in the distance, and his steps slow. I look ahead past a line of pine trees and see a glowing light under an outcropping of stone from the base of the mountain.

Nearing the fire, I see three figures moving together in the shadows of the trees. A women and two men garbed in leather and furs, dance around what appears to be my wounded elk. My companion’s ears perk up as I near the camp, enraptured by the dance of the hunters after my former prey. They are graceful in their coordinated effort, the woman loosing an arrow straight under the jaw of the creature as a man with dark skin inches towards the wounded animal with a long knife. The elk hits the ground, and the hunter strikes a killing blow into its throat.

From behind me, my wolf howls plaintively as I stand in the open, watching the scene. At the sound, the three hunter’s spin around to face me. I study their faces, scarred and rough. They study me back, with angry eyes. One of the men stands from the elk, brandishing his blade at me with an unsettling smile. "Well ain't this a surprise…"

I back slowly from the trio, but they are soon upon me, weapons drawn. My true companion leaps to my defense, snarling at two of the men as I dart behind a tree to escape the bow of the woman. A slice from one of the men’s swords sends me reeling back, bleeding from my arm. A snap of the wolf’s jaws silences his steel.

The woman dashes towards me, a dagger drawn from her hip. I dodge away, eyes darting back to my wolf. The remaining attacker has my companion backed up to the wall of the mountain. I cannot watch for long, as a punch sends me onto the ground. She throws her knife at me, but I am able to roll away. Tugging my own blade from my boot, I attack with fury at the woman. The point drives deep into her chest, and I throw her to the ground, bleeding and moaning.

All three soon lie bleeding and still at our feet. Silence.

From the corpse of the woman,  I am able to scrounge off a bow of much higher quality than my own. All three carry arrows. I restock my leather quiver, and spend the sunset searching the bodies of my fallen foes.

I wander back to the fire, surrounded by smoking racks of fish, and a wooden chest. After feasting on the remains of another bloodied carcass on the fire. I settle onto a fur lined bed roll, and lie my head back, sated. My mind is not as easily calmed. These bandits were just like the soldiers. Cruel, quick to see me bleed. From the moment I awoke on the stone slab, I have witnessed nothing but death, hatred, and battle. I am tired of fighting, but I know little else. Sleep comes swiftly, but does not yield any sweet dreams.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Update: March 22

Hey everyone! I'm overwhelmed and grateful to everyone who's commented so far on the story, and to the thousands of views to my blog! Thanks so much, and I hope to be able to keep up with expectations for the continued story.

I've got a Facebook group going, as another way of passing along updates and hopefully getting more feedback about the story as it continues. Take a look and "like" Prisoner, Breton today!

Word of mouth's the only way anyone will really get a chance to read and comment on my story, so if you have gotten a kick out of my story so far, I'd appreciate you passing it along to your friends, or anyone you think might enjoy it.

Again, thanks so much to everyone who's read and reviewed. I'm eternally grateful for the constructive feedback and motivation boost.

The update to the main story (Part II of Prisoner's Level 1 [mis]adventures) is coming on Sunday, so stay tuned!

Artemis Hunter

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Level 1

 (Part I of II)

Sundas, 10:46 AM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

When the wagon hits a ditch in the road, my face is thrown into the shoulder of the man beside me. My cheek hits pointed bone, and pain clears the fog from my mind. I am left with nothing but a throbbing headache and the chill of the wind. As I flex my arms, a length of thick rope scrapes against the skin on my wrist. My hands are bound.

“Hey you. You’re finally awake.”

Groggy, I glance up at the large blonde man seated across from me in the wagon. One of the soldiers in blue. The man on the horse, their leader, is bound and gagged beside me. My cheek throbs from striking his shoulder. “You were trying to cross the border, right?” The blond man studies me cautiously. My appearance must be even more startling to others than to myself. I am surprised that he would speak to me with such concern. “Walked right into that Imperial ambush, same as us and that thief over there.” I have no answer for him. I think of the altar, the ring of pillars, the frozen old man draped on top of my cold body. I shiver at the memory, one of my few.

The ‘thief’ raises his voice, angry and sharp. “Damn you, Stormcloak. Skyrim was fine until…”

As they argue, my eyes and ears wander far from the men bound in the wagon with me, and I watch the sun rise from above the mountains. We are far from where I first woke, from where I discovered the men in blue, and where the others has discovered me. The trees are different. Towering, as wide as two men.  The mountains loom all around us. The wagon dips down into a valley, and my bound arms keep me from keeping my balance. I slam once again into the man next to me. My eyes drifts to the floorboards as we near our destination: a small village at the bottom of the valley.

I meet eyes with a young boy on a doorstep. His father yells at him to return to the house, but he hesitates. I study his eyes as he watches us drive by. Only when he catches sight of my face does he cower back into his father’s shadow. I gently touch at the red stains across my mouth. My fingers come back dry. I fear the bloody hand will never fade or wash away.

Amidst prayers to their gods and curses at our captors, we are hauled from the wagon one by one, tugged down onto the ground as the soldiers take our names. I don’t resist as I’m manhandled off the wagon. Two soldiers, a woman and a man in leather and mail, wait for me at the bottom of the step. The man is holding a tome in his arms, writing out some sort of tally of their catch of the day. Glancing up from the book, his eyes widen at the sight of me.

“Who are you?” I remain silent at his hesitant question, meeting his eyes coolly. I don’t answer. I can’t.

A tense moment passes as he studies me. "You from Daggerfall, Breton? Fleeing from some court intrigue?"

With more silence as my response, he anxiously returns to his book. The woman beside him narrows her gaze at me. I am an unknown quantity.

“Captain, what should we do? She’s not on the list.” The man in armor whispers hoarsely to his superior.

“Forget the list.” She answers impatiently. “She goes to the block.”

“By your orders captain.” The man seems almost saddened by her order. His eye soften as he scratches a few words into the ledger. “I’m sorry. We’ll make sure your remains are returned to High Rock. Follow the captain, prisoner.”

High Rock. The word means nothing to me. They call me Prisoner, Breton, and other names I do not understand. This place is a stranger to me, as I am to mine own self. My life began in cold, pain, and blood. Perhaps it is fitting that it end in a similar fashion. With my hands bound, swords and death surrounding me, I have little choice in the matter.

As we are led from the wagon, the villagers and soldiers shout cruel and violent things. They wish us dead. I decide that I do not like these people. An image enters my mind, a vision, a fantasy:  they are all bleeding and broken, still warm unlike the bodies at the altar, still on the dusty ground.

But I can feel that the vision is not mine.  I can feel the pleasure of another at the scene of carnage, again not mine. I am frightened for the briefest of moments, but at least the bodies are silent in my mind’s eye, so that is good.

The thunk of an axe brings me back from my thoughts. A man’s head rolls on the ground several feet from its owner.

“Next, the Breton!” I watch the woman in mail, ever silent as I am marched forward . The dead man’s corpse is kicked away from the block.

I fall to me knees before they have a chance to force me down. Leaning down, I rest my head against the damp wooden slab. The wood is surprisingly warm, from the blood of its previous resident or from the now phantom sun, I cannot tell.

As the headsman’s arms rise out of my peripheral vision, I rest my eyes. The sky growls above, but I am more concerned with the warmth beneath my cheek, and the moment’s respite before the axe falls.

Soon, everything around me is in flames.

The creature from the sky…Dragon, they named it… its breath sets fire to the sky. Everything burns. The pain is excruciating, but it shocks me awake from my stupor. A heavy arm grabs me and drags me to my feet. I hear a familiar voice yelling to me in the bedlam. Through the fire, smoke, and carnage, I make out the face of the blonde man in blue armor. Still gripping my bound wrists, he leads me from the fire and into the dark. I take one last look into the fires, the bleeding and broken bodies. They are all still, as in my vision. Did Dragon hear my desire? I fear the beast, but in a dark corner of my mind, I am thankful that the cruel people have been silenced.

The door entry to the tower is slammed shut at the air catches fire once more. And once more, darkness.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Level 0

Sundas, 5:25 AM, 17th of Last Seed, 4E 201

When I awake, darkness and silence surrounds me. I feel nothing but a cold harsh wind, freezing me through the moisture on my skin and clothes. The stone beneath my head is even colder, coated in something slick and frozen.

A heavy weight is sprawled over me, and I can barely move. My arms are weak, painful. Everything hurts. From what state I have waken, I couldn’t guess. Hunger, pain, and cold: those feelings are my world now. And surrounding all of that, a shadow over my mind. Fear.

I am suffocating beneath the weight.

With what strength I can muster, I grab hold of the form above me, cold and damp, and push. In the dim light of sunrise, I can barely make out the face of the elderly man in rags as he topples to the ground. His eyes are stuck open in horror. Frozen. I scramble to sit up, but another weight rests across my legs, pinning me to the stone table where I have woken. Another man, this one much larger and heavier, is draped over the stone table, his chest and arms trapping my legs. I kick out with my legs, slowly and weakly. It takes a few moments to free myself, and my eyes eventually adjust to the dim, blue light in the clearing. I can make out the forms of a dozen or so bodies strewn about the stone table, all of them pale and silent. Surrounding the table, stand a ring of small carved stone towers.

With every inch of my body sore and stiff, I gently slide of the stone and crumple to my knees. How long has it been since I last stood? I dwell less on the questions and more on the fact that I can breathe once more. I inhale the cold, clear air, but I cannot stop shivering in my soaking and bloody rags. Beside me, the old man lies still. His clothes seem a little dryer then mine, soaked through to the skin with blood. I gently remove his clothes, ragged shoes and a bloody tunic, and replace mine. But it does little to fend off the chill in the air. Snow begins to fall in the early morning light.

The rippling sounds of water draw me away from the stone table. I crawl inch by inch to the embankment, my hands sinking into freezing cold mud and rocks. The sun has begun to rise, filing the clearing with streaks of blue and yellow rays. Rising to my knees, I lean over to view my reflection in the stream.

In the gently flowing water, I see my face for the first time. I am young, though my skin is ruddy and powdered with dark flecks of dirt. My eyes are as shadow, cold and empty. A long angry scar streaks down my cheek, still pink and fresh. But it is not my gaze that unsettles me. A red handprint streaks across my nose and mouth, as if a hand from beyond has tried to smother me. The metallic smell and taste of blood fills my senses. I splash my face into the water, scrubbing harshly, but it will not wash out. I try over and over again, rubbing and scratching at the slick and smooth shapes of fingers clutching at my mouth. How can blood not wash away?

I spend much of my morning wandering the clearing, searching through the bodies around the table for the driest and cleanest pieces of clothing. I toss on several layers of what I find, wrapping my hands in cloth to guards against the frost. The sun slowly rises, warming anything in the light, but the thin burlap of my rags does nothing against the chill the wind. I am putting on my second pair of ragged shoes when the otherwise silent clearing fills with the echoes of voices and the soft clinking of metal. I follow the rustling for a few minutes, hiding in the shadows of the trees and low hanging as I catch sight of a group of men, garbed in thickly wrapped blue cloth and mail. A large man riding a horse leads at the head of the pack, pressing them forward into the wilderness. He tightens his heavy fur cloak around him to stave off the cold. I shiver in my thin rags as I watch them with envy.

Several moments pass as I remain still and silent in the underbrush. The blue armored men continue on their path, speaking tensely in hushed voices. I barely make out the words of some, but from what I can gather, they are fleeing some terrible battle. A man killed another with only his voice.

A scout ahead of the group lifts his hand, and the blue armored men halt, waiting in silence. Something is coming.

The attack comes quickly.

Whistling through the air, a volley of arrows whir through the trees and strike the cloaked man’s horse. The creature screams out in agony and collapses to the ground, as the men search for the source. Shouting deafens the forest, as more men charge on them.

I cower further into my shadows. Before I can flee, a hand, wrapped in metal, grabs me in the bushes. I struggle from the grip, but am thrown to the ground and struck several times in the back. Amidst the pain, everything goes dark, as screaming and clanging fades into silence.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It begins...

Hello, and welcome to my fiction blog "Prisoner, Breton"!

For my second go around in Skyrim (my first being a ridiculously fun unarmed Khajiit thief), I found myself wanting to try my hand at magic, and at the 'darker' questlines that my noble thief didn't want to get his hands dirty doing. So I started over, with a bunch of ideas for how to get another unique experience out of the game.

I became so enraptured with my character design, that I decided to write some fiction to chronicle her journey. And then I accidentally hit the back button while naming her, and got stuck with the name "Prisoner". Not wanting to go all the way through the intro, I just figured I'd wing it and keep the name. With the first of many restrictions, I came up with what I hope is a dynamic and interesting character concept. Hoping to do something to entertain the masses, and also work on my prose writing.

My only rules for creating the character:
  • Core gameplay revolving around Conjuration, Pickpocketing and Stealth
  • Main weapons are bows and daggers
  • No Dragonborne questing
  • Visit every daedric temple/statue
  • Join the dark brotherhood, and similarly 'evil' questlines
  • Always play in character

From there, I'm just roleplaying and writing what I think is a rather fun character.

Thanks for checking it out and feel free to leave comments! I'd love to gauge interest in the story.

Artemis Hunter