The Throat of the World
What is better - to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort? - Paarthurnax
Cato stared at the man in front of him, and at the Blade of Woe in his hand. Was he really going to do this? Kill the Emperor? The Emperor stood behind his desk chair onboard The Katariah. The old Imperial's hands gripped the chair with white knuckles. His head was bowed, ready to accept the death that awaited him at the hands of the Dark Brotherhood. Titus Mede II knew he had to die. He knew the Dark Brotherhood could never deny a contract; especially one that was this important, one that paid such a high bounty.
But he'd stopped Cato when he had entered. He asked not for his life, but for justice. He asked for a new contract. A contract to kill the man who made his original contract. "For the Empire," the Emperor had said. For he feared that the murderer came from within his own Elder Council.
Cato hated this man. He felt the mark of the Legion on his left arm. It felt like it was burning, a fresh reminder of what he lost. Furious, Cato removed his mask and hood, thus revealing his face to the Emperor. His hand gripped the Blade of Woe like it was his lifeline. "You are contracted for death, Emperor," he said slowly.
The Emperor looked at Cato with gentle eyes, like the eyes of a father scorned. "Yes, I must die. And you must deliver the blow. It is simply the way it is."
Cato scowled. He reached for his Nightingale gauntlet and removed it, revealing the mark of the Legion. "Former Prefect Aventus Cato, Third Calvary Commander," he said quickly, like it was practiced. "Not everything is simple," he hissed.
The Emperor was silent.
Cato scowled. "Then you recognize me."
The Emperor nodded solemnly. "I do. Words cannot express how sorry I am so sorry for your loss."
"A little late, your Highness," Cato growled.
"I did what I had to do for the Empire. If I hadn't signed that treaty we would have all been killed. I saved so many."
Cato closed the gap between them. "You betrayed more people than you ever saved."
Titus Mede II dipped his head. "I know. Talos preserve me, I know."
Cato stared. This emperor was just as much a prisoner to the Thalmor as his empire was. He didn't deserve the Void. But it was a contract. The man had to die. Cato raised his dagger, and plunged it into Emperor Titus Mede II's heart. When the Emperor was dead he lifted his body and laid it on his bed, folding his hands over his chest. Cato left his Amulet of Talos wrapped around the Emperors hand.
Cato had realized the flaw in the Dark Brotherhood. There is no honor in killing a man who is already dead. The Dark Brotherhood was nothing but a business, just like Astrid had taught him.
The Legion had taught him honor. The Guild had taught him respect.
And now death was just a business deal.
It was in that moment that Cato decided that he would change the Dark Brotherhood. He would meld the old and the new. It would become a mix of Astrid's way and the traditional ways. He realized the Night Mother needed him more than he needed her. It was the Listener's turn to speak.
That was three years ago.
Cato was only vaguely aware that he was no longer in the Ratway Warrens. His body ached and his head was throbbing. He did not want to wake. He wanted to lay in this numbed stupor for the rest of time. Above all he wanted to sleep, and sleep he did. Cato fell in and out of fitul sleep awoken only by nightmares and when he felt someone forcing potions down his throat. He wanted to let go. That's when he heard a familiar voice.
Her voice anchored him. She kept him from falling into blackness. He reached for her. He dreamed of her in the Twilight Sepulchor. The glow of low torchlight angling her dark features. Her laugh, high bells that rang out in the night. The pain in her eyes when she saw Gallus' spirit failing. His unspoken love for her burned within him, warming him against the cold of death. He loved her, but she loved someone else, waiting for someone else; a dead man, a ghost.
When Cato woke he did so with a start and accidentally scared the poor healer who had been standing over him so much that the Breton dropped the potion he was mixing. The pale pink liquid burned through the sleeve of his robe, and he jumped as he frantically began brushing off the liquid with a rag before it could reach his skin. Cato watched with wide eyes, and the healer glared at him. Cato was too fuzzy to remember to apologize, or maybe he was just too frustrated. He wasn't sure. The Breton gave one last glare and left.
Cato paid no mind. His vision was reeling, and his head felt like it was three sizes to big. He touched his head, just to be sure, and found it to be perfectly normal. He wondered how he had gotten here. He'd been in the Warrens, fighting the Thalmor agents that had been hunting him and his clients. Had he taken a blow to the head? He didn't recall. He gave a mental shrug. He'd remember later. For now he would just deal with the basics. He was back at the guild. He recognized the room, plus he could hear the constant rush of water that indicated he was near the main Cistern. He knew that much, the basics.
He looked down at himself, someone, probably that healer, had removed his Nightingale armor. His chest was bare and his left wrist was bandaged. He tested his wrist and winced. Luck of Nocturnal my ass, he cursed.
His vision was still swirling when he heard a commotion outside. Within moments Brynjolf stood in the doorway. He smiled when he saw Cato was awake. "You," he chuckled, "took a mighty good blow to the head. We thought we'd lost you for a moment there, lad."
Cato smiled and tried to sit up. Then decided to stay down when he started seeing two of Brynjolf, "Nocturnal and Sithis were probably arguing too much over my soul to let me die already," he joked. "Did the others make it? The clients I was with?"
Brynjolf nodded. "For the most part," he explained, "Vex wasn't happy about it. Something about if we let in one set of strangers into the Guild vault we might as well sell tickets."
Cato raised a brow. He had no idea where the passage that he'd directed the Blades to let out. It let out in the vault apparently. "Depends on how much we would charge. Seal that entrance, and I don't want to hear a word about it. I'd rather it be forgotten," Cato ordered. "They were paying clients," he sighed. "Good paying clients. It wouldn't be polite to let them get killed."
"Aye," Brynjolf nodded, "but let's not make a habit of almost dying, huh?"
"I agree," Cato said with a fresh smile. "Are they still here?"
Brynjolf shook his head. "No," he explained, "they left right quick after we decided not to kill them."
"Did they say anything before they left?"
"Something about thanking you for your sacrifice or some noble skeever **** like that," Brynjolf said with a shrug. "But they left a note for you." He reached into his pack and pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper. Cato took it with his good hand and opened it. In a neat handwriting was a message from Delphine.
Cato refolded the note and map and sat up, swinging his feet over the side of the bed. The world wasn't spinning as much and he didn't feel as nauseous. "One more thing," Brynjolf said as he turned toward the door. "Your Family sent a message. You're to meet them at home."
Right, Cato thought. It was mid month; time to speak with the Night Mother in Dawnstar.
It had taken a week for the Greybeards to start treating him normally. For the first few days every time they saw him they'd throw themselves on their knees and Shout 'Dovahkiin' or 'Dovah Do Faal Bron'. One of them, Master Bolli, had actually kissed his shoes once. It was kind of them to welcome him into High Hrothgar so energetically, but it was another thing when he sat up in bed one night to find offerings at his bedside. It took even longer to convince Arngeir to stop calling him Talos. But his time wasn't wasted dodging groveling monks. He studied the texts they offered him, teaching him new Shouts, and teaching him how to speak the Dragon Language. He was quite confident in his abilities to hold a very short conversation with a dragon, should that need ever arise. He had his doubts.
He was returned to the world when a courier arrived and delivered a letter. It was signed 'A Friend', but Revak had no doubt in his mind that it was from Delphine. It mentioned that they were fine, and that if he needed to find them a ruin called Karthspire was a good place to look. Arngeir was concerned that the Dragonborn was receiving messages, especially at High Hrothgar. He was even more concerned when Revak told him that this friend was a Blade.
"It concerns me that you would even associate with them," Arngeir argued at dinner.
"They are my Blades," Revak said sternly. "They are sworn to my service."
"And so are you sworn to theirs! They are violent and short sighted."
Revak scowled. "They are my sworn protectors, and have already saved me once in my time here."
"They would kill all dragons no matter what side they took. They treat them as nothing but beasts!" Arngeir stopped, collecting himself before continuing, "Not all dragons are hostile. We've protected Paarthurnax for centuries. You know that the Blades would call for his head."
"I know. Or do you not remember that I wanted him protected as well?"
"They would call it justice!"
Revak shook his head. "I need them, I need all of you," he said as he scanned the table and took in the expression of the monks around him. This is why he was here. Why a god had to return. For it would take the power of the Divines to make these old enemies come together for a common cause. "Greybeards don't fight wars. The Blades do. I need swords. I need soldiers." He stood, "If you will deny me this, then I will leave tonight."
The Greybeards stood, silent save for Arngeir, "No, holy Talos. We will not deny your wishes, only question them."
"Take me to Paarthurnax."
"As you wish," Arngeir had finally agreed.
Paarthurnax felt the world shake when Alduin returned to the world. It wasn't an earthquake. It was a shiver that shook all of Skyrim. Like the very mountains knew of the evil that had returned to the world. It was a black day, a black day indeed. The Tyrant had risen again.
If the world shuddered when Alduin returned, it sung when the Dragonborn Shouted for the first time. His Voice was carried all the way to the Throat of the World, and the wind and mountains joined in the chorus. It was a beautiful thing to behold. After thousands of years the silence was broken and the world sang once more.
When his Greybeards called the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar Paarthurnax waited patiently for the Dragonborn to speak with him. The ancient dragon was like a hatchling, itching with excitement he had not felt in a millenia. No one had spoken with him in hundreds of years. His friend, the Dragonborn Tiber Septim, the one who the mortals worship as Talos, was the last. He hadn't met this new Dragonborn yet, but Paarthurnax yearned to taste of his Voice.
It wasn't for some time that the mountain groaned as the Dragonborn's Shouts cleared the path to the Throat of the World. When he saw the man clear the summit he felt a sort of pride in his heart of hearts. He was young Nord, his hair short and light. The Nords, he thought, a blessed race to be sure. He was wearing heavy steel armor beneath a dark wool cloak that protected him from the chill in the mountain air.
With a short, deep roar Paarthurnax jumped from his resting place and took to the air. He glided down smoothly until he landed in front of the Nord. The man stood as still as a mountain. His face was stone. He was many feet away from the Dragonborn, but even from this distance he felt it. The power of another dragon. He showed his many teeth in a dragon's smile, "Drem Yol Lok. Greetings," he hummed.
"Drem yol lok, Paarthurnax," the Dragonborn said. Paarthurnax was impressed already by the Dragonborn's knowledge of his language.
"Who are you? What brings you to my strunmah..." he paused, remembering this mortal might not know all the words, " my mountain?"
"I think you already know, In," the Dragonborn said confidently.
"Vahzah... True, but first there are formalities to be observed. Traditions for the meeting of two dov." Paarthurnax raised his head and breathed in deeply. "By tradition it is the elder that speaks first." He turned, and rearing his head, "YOL TOOR SHUL!" he Shouted as a stream of fire erupted from his jaws. Paarthurnax chuckled, "Match it if you can, Dovahkiin."
"YOL TOOR SHUL!" he Shouted, and like the dragon a stream of fire was drawn forth from the Shout. It was strong and loud. His fire was hot and full of life.
But it was familiar. Like a scent that blows in the wind, but then is gone. But the last time he heard that Voice it was... "Daar nis kos. Zu lost hon hin Thu'um ingrah vod!This cannot be! I heard your Voice long ago!"
"I've returned, dov. My name in this life is Revak. My name in my past life was Talos, the Dragon of the North."
"Aam? You are alive?" Paarthurnax snorted, causing smoke to trail from his snout. A fitting name for a man-god. But more importantly Talos has returned? The mortal's gods must be desperate to send their god of war back to Mundus. This was unheard of.
"I've been sent to return to the world to stop Alduin," Revak-Talos explained.
Paarthurnax raised his head in acknowledgement, "My old friend, you seek a weapon against Alduin?"
"Yes, I wish to know how the old tongues stopped him."
"The words of that Thu'um, cannot be known to the Dovah," Paarthurnax said with a low growl.
"A Shout? They used a Shout to stop him?" Revak asked quickly.
"Geh aan Thu'um. They called it 'Dragonrend'. But as I said Dovahkiin, it cannot be known to me. My mind does not even grasp its concept." It chilled his blood just thinking about it.
"How can I learn it, then?"
"The ancient Nords used the Dragonrend Shout to cripple Alduin. But it was not was the Kel - The Elder Scroll. They used it to send him away on the currents of time. Tiid krent. Time was shattered here at the Throat of the World. If you brought a Kel back here, it would show you. Through the Time Wound..."
"I could see the other end of it," Revak finished. Revak bowed to Paarthurnax. "Stay safe Paarthurnax. I will return with an Elder Scroll. We will finish Alduin this time, my old friend."
He turned to leave, but stopped when he heard Paarthurnax speak, "It was good to see you again, Talos. Dahmaan. It brings back memories of times long past."
Revak smiled, "It was good to see you too. I head North. Watch the skies for me, Onik Fahdon. When Alduin is dead, you and I will have a nice conversation."
Paarthurnax hummed, "I look forward to that day, Dovahkiin."
Attn: Hmm, looks like Revak and Cato are both heading North.
If anyone is confused at this point here's clarification. There were 15 chapters. Now there's not. I combined many of them when I was going back over things. The story hasn't been changed very much. But there have been changes. Please note that. If anyone wants to go back and read the new perspectives starting in chapter 3 and onward, go ahead. It's mostly Lydia and Ralof (who will both be returning next chapter).
So, list of what's happening.
Revak is heading North to Winterhold to the College to seek the Elder Scroll. Cato is also heading North to Dawnstar to meet with the Night Mother as scheduled. Delphine and Esbern are making their way to Karthspire to find Sky Haven Temple (though they might not be able to get in). Lydia and Hod are in prison together, both taken prisoner by the Thalmor. Ulfric Stormcloak has learned of Revak from Bardak the Bold.
If you can guess what is going to happen, I applaud you.
List of Phrases in the Dragon Language as they appear:
Dovahkiin - (really?) Dragonborn
Dovah Do Faal Bron - Dragon of the North
Drem Yol Lok - Greetings (literally Peace-Fire-Sky)
strunmah - Mountain
In - Master
Vahzah - True
Dov - Dragon (Dovah = Dragon kind)
Yol Toor Shul- (Fire Breath Shout)
Daar nis kos! Zu lost hon hin Thu'um ingrah vod! - (rough) This cannot be! I heard that Voice long ago!
Aam? - Hmm? (Dragon version of being lost for words, like 'umm')
Thu'um - Shout
Geh aan Thu'um. - Yes, a Shout.
Kel - Elder Scroll
Tiid krent - Time Broken
Dahmaan - Remember
Onik Fahdon - Old Friend