He became aware of the pain in his belly first. It felt like his insides were on fire. With a groan he opened his eyes and sat up, trying to ignore the increase in pain as he moved. His vision was blurry at first, but, slowly, his eyes adjusted to the light. It took his fuzzy brain a moment to realize he was in a different room. The room was warm, but he felt a slight chill on his bare chest from the sweat making contact with the open air. He looked down and saw that his wound had been dressed. He felt stomach sick.
Everything was slowly returning to him; the abduction of Ralof's family, the assassin, and Farengar's client. That sword, he thought as he threw his feet over the side, it was an Akaviri katana. He knew it for sure. He'd seen those dozens of times. He had used them before. The Akaviri katana was the signature weapon of the Blades. The once dragon hunters, and personal guards to the Emperor. They were sworn to follow and protect the Dragonborn. Once the Oblivion Crisis hit the Blades were paramount to the salvation of Tamriel from the invasion of the daedra from Oblivion. The last Dragonborn emperor died at the end of the Third Era. The Blades had no emperor to serve, and thus were cast aside, nothing but relics of a time now gone. Either this woman had a relic and was unaware of its origins, or she was in contact with the Blades. If the latter was true she probably was one. If the Blades still existed they would be honor bound to help him.
He stood. His legs felt weak from lack of use. How long was I unconscious, he thought, more importantly, who treated me? The empty, sour feeling in his stomach and the stiffness of his muscles was a familiar feeling. Poison, he thought with a sigh, the damn assassin's blade was poisoned. He should have figured that earlier. He spotted a mug on the stand next to the bed. Greedy with thirst he reached for it, his thirst now all but unbearable.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he heard a woman's voice say from behind him. "You'll regret it when you feel like your insides are going to explode."
Smiling, Revak took a small sip. The water wasn't cool, but refreshing nonetheless. Sadly, he put the still full mug down on the stand. He turned and saw the woman who had saved him standing in the doorway. Her leathers were gone, replaced by civilian clothes, and she only had a steel dagger at her side. "You speak from experience?" he asked, not taking his eyes off her. She was a Breton; he could tell that much by her height, and her light hair and eyes. She was older, if Revak were to guess he would say in her fifties, but she was obviously in good shape.
"Something like that," she said with a smirk. She closed the door behind her, "You and I need to talk."
Revak nodded. "We do," he said as he made his way, slowly, to the table where there was a wicked looking ebony dagger and a folded note. Curious, Revak opened the note, revealing a large black hand printed on it. The Black Hand, he thought as he folded the note. I should have known that it was the Dark Brotherhood. "The Dark Brotherhood," he said setting the note down and picking up the ebony blade gently. It was a fine blade, something that the Brotherhood would have used back in their prime. "I forgot about them."
The woman took the dagger from him, "Well, it's going to be hard to forget about them from now on." She put the dagger down, "They aren't going to forget this, and they don't give up on hits." She looked at him, "They are going to hunt you until you die."
"Not unless I run into them first," he said with a smile as he turned back toward the bed and sat down, wincing from the pain.
"You don't seriously expect to challenge the Dark Brotherhood?"
"No," Revak laughed, "but if I run into them, I'll remember this." She smiled. "So," he said, "do I get to learn the name of the person who probably saved my life?"
"Probably?" she raised her brow.
"Well," Revak shrugged, "he might have missed, you never know."
"No, I guess not."
She smiled, "My name is Delphine."
"Well then," he said, offering his hand, "Delphine, I thank you." She took his hand. Revak smiled at the strength of her grip. "So, that was an interesting blade you used last night."
"I saved you life and you're interested in swords?"
Revak stood. "You know who I am," she said nothing. "You know what I am?" Nothing. "I know what you are."
She crossed her arms, "Do you?"
"I do, Blade."
Revak took a step toward her, "It's been a long time since you were called that, wasn't it? After all, weren't the Blades undone?"
Delphine's eyes grew wide, "How do you know?"
"Your sword," he said calmly. "The Akaviri katana, it's not very common," he explained.
"You weren't just saving an innocent man. You were saving me for a reason. Why?"
She sighed, "Because I've heard the rumors. You're Dragonborn?"
Revak nodded, "I am."
"Follow me," she said as she walked to the wardrobe in the corner. Curious, Revak followed and watched as Delphine opened the door, pushed aside the clothes and pulled a hidden lever. Suddenly, the back wall of the wardrobe slid to the left, revealing a stone staircase going to a hidden basement. Delphine went down the stairs. Revak followed slowly but surely behind her. It took a moment for Revak's eyes to adjust to the lack of light. Once adjusted he saw a table in the center of the room, covered with maps and books, a chest in the corner, a book shelf and an alchemist table along the back wall. Along the wall to the right was a weapon rack, containing three Akaviri katanas.
"Very nice," he said once he was finished taking in his surroundings.
"I'm sure you understand the need for secrecy."
He nodded. "Of course. So, Delphine, who are you really?"
She leaned on the table and sighed, "One of the last of the Blades. How much do you know of them?"
"More than I should," he said as he moved slowly to the table. "They were - are - an ancient order, meant to protect and serve the Dragonborn. In the beginning they were dragon hunters and joined the Dragonborn to hunt dragons. Later, they were guardians to the Dragonborn Emperors. After the Oblivion Crisis, and after the death of Martin Septim, they were left without a clear purpose."
Delphine nodded solemnly, "Ever since we've been fighting where we're needed. I fought against the Aldmeri Dominion in the Great War. The Dominion destroyed us. The Thalmor thought we were a threat to their power. They've been hunting the Blades ever since." Delphine paused and shook her head, "We questioned them. We stood for what he Empire truly is, what it was meant to be, and we suffered for it."
"And what is that?" Revak asked, curious as to what her response would be.
"A union of Tamriel under one banner, a union of peace and brotherhood, ruled by the Dragonborn descended from Tiber Septim himself."
She nodded, "That was the biggest blow to the Blades. Removing Talos from the Divines? Not only had the Empire turned into a bastardized version of itself, but it abandoned it's most holy and iconic man that ever lived. It's founder! For our sake, I hope Talos finds mercy to those that still worship him, even in secret."
He does, Revak thought, "I agree."
She looked at him, determination in her eyes. "You truly are Dragonborn?" Revak nodded. "I've been tracking your progress since Bleak Falls Barrow," she said, "You've never been to the Greybeards. Instead you learned to Shout from the dragon at the watchtower."
She pointed out numerous points she'd marked along the map. "These are dragon burial sites," she began. "The fact that the dragons are returning isn't merely by chance. Something is bringing them back. What that is I don't-"
"I do," Revak interrupted. Delphine stared at him, "Alduin has returned."
"Alduin," she said slowly, "I recognize the name..."
"Alduin the World Eater, End Bringer, First Born of Akatosh," Revak said with a scowl. "He is the opposite of Akatosh. As Akatosh creates, Alduin was to destroy. According to legends, Alduin had forsaken his ancient role to bring the end of the world, and instead he wanted to control it. So the Nords of old, the Dragonborn, supposedly defeated him."
"But if he was defeated, how can he be back?"
"It said they 'defeated' him, not that they destroyed him. How can you destroy a god?"
Delphine frowned, "If this is true... what are we to do?"
"It is no mere coincidence that I, a Dragonborn, appeared just as the dragons return to Skyrim."
Delphine looked confused, "What do you mean?"
"I was sent by the Divines to stop Alduin, at all costs."
"Sent by the Divines? So what, they brought you back to life?" she said questioningly.
"In a way. You don't need to believe me now. I'm sure it will make itself more obvious in time, but you and I have the same goal; to stop these dragons," he paused, taking in her reaction.
"Agreed," she said finally, "we must stop these dragons. Whatever they are planning, whether it's this Alduin, or just a crazed act of nature." Revak held back a sigh of relief. He was worried that this would go the same way as it had with Lydia. Instead Delphine asked no further questions, just left the posibility hanging in the air. "In any case," she pointed at a mark on her map, "Kynesgrove, I believe this is our next dragon. If we can catch them as they come back..."
Revak smiled, "It might save some lives."
"Exactly," Delphine said, "and if you really are Dragonborn, this is your chance to prove it to me."
It made sense that she would be skeptical, "Of course." Revak touched his bandages, "How long until I will be able to fight?"
She shook her head, "I'm not sure, let's go back upstairs and see how it's healing. The poison that was on the blade was a nasty concoction."
Going back up the stairs was more difficult that descending. Revak had to use Delphine as a crutch in order to get back up them. The room was spinning by the time they made it back to the bed. Carefully, Delphine removed the bandages. Revak winced as the fabric brushed against the wound. Once the bandages were removed Revak could see the injury for the first time. He had been stabbed in the left side of his belly. It was a long wound that was deep at the point of impact, then slid toward his side, leaving a long and ugly gash. He knew instantly that he would scar from the cut, "How long has it been?"
"Two days. You were lucky he missed your internal organs," Delphine said, reaching for fresh bandages. "It has healed well for how long it's been. The poison probably slowed the healing somewhat," she said as she began rewraping his injury.
Revak nodded, "I figured as much. I should be fine in maybe a few days."
"Five at least. We'll see, but we need to get to Kynesgrove, if you aren't well enough by then..."
"I'll travel injured," Revak smiled, "I'll make it."
She returned his smile as she finished wrapping his bandages.
Finally, Revak had a plan.
Kynesgrove turned out to be nothing more than a small mining village just South of Windhelm. It was literally nothing more than a mine, inn, and abandoned lumber mill. Revak scratched absentmindedly at his armor where he knew the scar from the assassin hid underneath. Under Revak's insistence, he and Delphine had traveled a mere three days after Revak had awoken after the Dark Brotherhood blade attempted to gut him like a fish. He had kept the wicked ebony blade and carried it with him, a reminder that if he were to ever run in to another member of the Brotherhood that he would return it.
They traveled in full armor, and constantly on their guard. Regularly, Delphine would look over her shoulder, as if fearing to find another assassin trailing behind them. She was under the constant fear that the Thalmor were hunting her still. Revak tried to comfort her by reminding her that she was no longer alone. She reminded him that he was Dragonborn, and that if anyone knew his whereabouts, it'd be the Thalmor.
Despite being weighed down by armor and injury they traveled quickly, only stopping to water their horses and to sleep in short shifts. As they passed under the great mountain that lead to the Throat of the World Revak hung his head. He knew he was defying the Greybeards by not climbing the Seven Thousand steps now, but he had a mission. Stopping the dragons, any dragon, was more important that meeting with old men on mountains.
As they traveled Delphine told him of her life; her battles in the First War, the multiple attempts on her life (she once killed an entire Thalmor assassination team.), and how she was trying to keep the traditions of the Blades alive. Each night and morning she prayed to the gods, to Talos specifically. In fact, Revak noticed that she would grasp her amulet of Talos as if to remind herself that it was still there. He couldn't help but smile as he stole glances of her doing this, but she quickly would hide the amulet under her armor, safe from the world and from his eyes.
His nights were becoming sleepless. Memories of his life long lived were bleeding into his dreams. His dreams were of battles long since forgotten. One night he had dreamed of the battle of Sancre Tor. It was a bloody battle between the Bretons, Nords, and Imperials that had given him his Empire. He saw the faces of the men and women that he'd killed as he lead his army beneath the keep. His days were spent in silence, meditating on the images of the night before.
One day they saw an lonely shrine on the road. The stone relic was crushed, and the name of the god it was for had been removed by a rough hand, but that only made it more obvious that it was a shrine to Talos. "Dragonborn, do you worship the gods?" Delphine had asked him.
"Of course," Revak had curtly responded as they rode.
"I'm sorry," she said, "I just never notice you praying or even mentioning them."
Revak shook his head, "I do, but I guess I've been... out of practice of late."
"Do you worship Talos?" she asked, her hand on her chest where Revak knew her amulet lay beneath.
"Yes," he said slowly, "in a way." That was the last he would speak of it.
It was late in the afternoon when they finally saw the Braidwood Inn. It was late fall in Skyrim. The sun hid behind a thick layer of clouds, and still sweat soaked their horses, threatening to freeze. Revak's mood rose as he saw the inn, for it meant food, shelter from the cold, and a chance for sleep. He dreamed of a fire, a cup of ale, and a warm meal.
Sadly that would remain a dream.
A farmer was running down the road, catching the attention of a Stormcloak patrol. Delphine and Revak followed the patrol as they intercepted the farmer. The Stormcloak stopped the poor man, "Trouble?" he asked.
The farmer stopped, catching his breath, "A dragon!" he gasped, "a huge black dragon!"
Revak spurred his mare forward, "Where?"
"Up the hill, by the old mound!"
Revak put on his horned helm, "Delphine, take the patrolman and get reinforcements," he drew his Akaviri Katana, "I'll go to the burial mound."
He was about to turn to run of up the path when Delphine called to him, "Dragonborn!" Revak stopped, and looked at the Blade. Her eyes spoke of fear and concern, "Fight well." Revak smiled and turned, his horse going full speed up the sparse dirt road.
Delphine watched sadly as the Dragonborn disappeared from sight. Her horse sensed fear and grew restless, prancing about where it stood. "You," she said to the farmer, "find somewhere safe." The farmer nodded and ran off toward the fields. "Stormcloak," she said to the soldier, who had an almost comical look of confusion on his face, "is there a post nearby?" He nodded and lead her down the road.
There was a small tower near the end of the town. It was a crumbling relic of the old Empire, but the Stormcloaks were like roaches. They would take cover and use whatever supplies they could muster, and if using abandoned Imperial outposts was necessary they would certainly make due.
"Captain!" the Stormcloak patrol called as he neared the outpost. An old soldier in a bearskin cloak stepped from the tower, followed by two more Stormcloak soldiers.
"What is the meaning of this? Who is this" the old bear asked.
The patrol stopped running, breathing heavily, Delphine spoke for him, "Reinforcements are needed in the village," she said, sitting tall in the saddle.
"Who are you?"
Delphine frowned, "It doesn't matter who I am," she said. "What matters is that there's a dragon at the burial mound and a man has gone to fight it alone."
The bear cursed, "Then he is a fool."
Delphine drew her sword, rage fueling her words, "He is the Dragonborn!" she yelled, her sword eager at her side, "show some respect!"
The bear stared at her for a moment. "Dinalla," he said to the young Stormcloak woman beside him, "get my horse."
As Revak crested the hill he saw the great black dragon circling the ancient mound. The darkness that he felt in his heart at the sight of it confirmed that it was Alduin. A black cloud was spinning from the mound as Alduin hovered and chanted in the Dragon Language. The worm either did not notice him, or it paid him no attention. Revak's horse began to fret, refusing to continue toward the black beast. He dismounted, taking his steel shield once his metal boots hit the fresh powder of snow below. His horse fled, screaming as it sped back down the path.
Sword and shield in hand, Revak marched toward the mound, "DRAGON!" he shouted at the beast. The dragon made sound that was a mix between a growl and a roar as it hovered above the mound; Revak could almost imagine the beast laughing at him.
The dragon stared at Revak, his burning red eyes flared, "Dovahkiin," the World Eater said, his voice made the world grow cold and dark and made a chill run down Revak's spine. "Daar Lein los dii." He breathed a white mist into the black cloud.
The ground shook. Revak struggled to stay on his feet. From the dragon mound a skeletal dragon burst forth, spraying rocks and dirt in its wake. A bright light came from the dragon, blinding Revak. He cursed and put up his shield, not knowing what would happen while he was indisposed. The light dispersed. Revak lowered his shield.
The skeletal dragon had become flesh. Its scales were white as the new snow, and they sparkled like ice in the morning light; beautiful and dangerous. The beast crawled from its former resting place and Shouted to the heavens, "FRO KRAH DIIN!" a blast of ice blue frost streamed into the air. Frost breath, Revak remembered. The white dragon dipped its head in respect to Alduin, "Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik."
Alduin roared in response, "Sahloknir, krii daar jor!" Revak didn't need to speak the Dragon Language to know that the Worm had commanded the white dragon to kill him. The white dragon, Sahloknir Revak guessed, turned toward him as Alduin flew away, roaring as he fled. Revak held up his shield and waited for the dragon to make its first move. Revak's heart was beating wildly in his chest. He had no tower to jump from this time, and no plan.
The dragon stepped toward him, baring its teeth as it spoke, "I am Sahloknir! Hear my Voice and despair!" He Shouted a stream of ice at Revak, who barely managed dodged in time.
"You will die, dragon!" Revak called as he returned to his feet, his shield still held high.
Sahloknir hummed, "My Lord Alduin requires your death. I am happy to oblige him, " he said as he breathed another spray of frost, just missing Revak. "Hiding will not save you mortal!" Revak charged, dodging Sahloknir's elemental breath by inches, but managing to bash the white dragon in the snout, "You mortals have grown arrogant while I slept!"
"Perhaps you are the one who's grown arrogant?" Revak said as he rushed back, dodging the dragon's claws. He felt the power of the dragon's blood flowing within him, "FUS RO DAH!" he Shouted. The dragon was buffeted backwards, using his wings to keep his balance.
"Your Voice is strong Dovahkiin," he released a blast of flame, forcing Revak back even further. Fire and ice? Revak cursed as he charged again, shield above his head he dived as another stream of flame flew over him, heating his shield and scalding his shield arm. He managed to slash at the beast's throat. He broke through it's scales and the dragon roared in pain. Revak was nearly crushed as the dragon took to the skies, blood trailing behind it like a comet's tail.
Revak screamed in defiance as the dragon dived at him, roaring as it fell from the heavens. The dragon crashed, parting the ground like water as it fell. Revak was knocked away. He felt his breath knocked out of him as he hit the ground. He lay there, gasping for breath. He slowly stood, the world spinning around him. The dragon stood, but was obviously hurt. It moved slowly and did not bother to speak to Revak again.
Revak half limped half marched to the dragon, who bared its teeth and growled. "I am Talos Stormcrown," the dragon stared, at a loss for words, "in the name of the Divines, I WILL DESTROY YOU!" he charged, sword high and shield low, ready to die, but also ready to kill the beast before him. His flesh began to glow gold, the blessing of a god made flesh. For the first time since he arrived in Skyrim... Revak was Talos once more.
Sahloknir tried to crunch the Dragonborn in his jaws, but the swift Dragonborn sidestepped him. The dragon was blinded by Talos' aura. The white worm was left wide open, and Talos took the opportunity. He stabbed the beast in the eye, once, twice, three times. Sahloknir roared in pain and despair as the blade sunk deep into his eye, and deep into his brain. The dragon collapsed, shuddered once, then moved no more.
Revak stood, frozen in time as the soul of the dragon joined his. A bright gold and white stream enveloped him, giving him the power and knowledge of the felled dragon. When it was over Revak stood, burned, damaged, and tired. He stepped away from the dead dragon, taking in the sight.
He saw Delphine and the Stormcloaks coming up from behind him. He smiled when she stopped, frozen in awe.
"Do you believe I am Dragonborn now?" he laughed.
Attn: Well, combining chapters is not fun. But it does help organize my thoughts for some reason.
For clarification, Revak can learn Shouts many ways. He can learn from reading the word, and absorbing its meaning through the souls of dragons. He can also listen to them and learn them. For example, in this chapter he just learned the Frost Breath Shout. And this 'god' appearance I call his 'Divine Aura'. This will be mentioned later.
Dragon Language translations as they appear:
Daar Lein los dii - (rough) This world will die/This world is doomed.
FRO KRAH DIIN - (Frost Breath Shout) Frost-Cold-Freeze
Alduin, thuri! Boaan tiid vokriiha suleyksejun kruziik. - Alduin, my overlord! An age past, did you not destroy the power of the ancient kings? /Alduin, my overlord! An age time ago kill power-of-kings ancient?
Sahloknir, krii daar jor - Sahloknir, kill the mortal.
FUS RO DAH - (Unrelenting Force Shout) Force-Balance-Push
Sahloknir - (Dragon Name) Phantom-Sky-Hunt