Journal of Anya Fire-Heart – Sundas, 17th of Last Seed, 4th Era, Year 201
Once inside the keep I felt only slightly safer. The walls were obviously thicker than the tower but I still found myself walking in the middle of hallways and staying near the center of rooms as long as I could hear the dragon outside. I walked forward from then entry way and found myself in the large round tower that was the center of the keep. It was empty except a small table, a chair and some straw. There were two gates to each side as I came in that were both closed Imperial banners hung from the walls and then I saw the dead Stormcloak. Ralof ran passed me and knelt down by the dead man. He said some words about Sovngarde and then stood and turned to me.
He marveled at the fact that we had just seen a dragon but then turned his attention to removing my binds. I was free again. He then told me to take the dead man’s gear and called him Gunjar. He knew the man. I looked at Ralof for a minute and then he excused himself.
“I’m going to see if I can find some way out of here.”
I smiled as he turned from me. Ralof was at least a man of honor. It was a convenient excuse so he would be looking away while I changed. I wondered what he would have thought if he had known I had spent a good month naked in front of more than a dozen men. Men who did more than just look. I stripped Gunjar of his Stormcloak armor and his fur boots. I set his iron war axe to the side for a moment. I looked over my shoulder at Ralof. He still had his back turned looking at the gate’s lock. I pulled my rough tunic over my head and dropped the trousers around my ankles and removed the foot wraps while I was at it. I was briefly naked and then pulled the Stormcloak tunic over my head and pulled on the breeches. Gunjar was small for a male Nord and I a little large for a female Nord so the outfit actually fit pretty well. I sat in the chair and pulled the fur boots on, grabbed the axe and stood up.
I looked at the axe. I had actually made one of these at my father’s forge. I knew at least how to use it as well thanks to my father. I swung it a couple times to test the weight and then stuck the shaft into the ring on my right side. I wasn’t much but I could defend myself now. Ralof must have heard me swing the axe, because he turned and started checking the other door. He looked at me and smiled as he passed. He quickly concluded there was no way out as he looked passed the gate down the hallway.
As he said what he thought, two Imperials came around the corner down that hallway. One of them was the Captain who had ordered my execution. Ralof urged me to take cover but I ignored him. I could feel my rage welling up she came to the one gate and saw me. She order the gate opened and seemed to indicate that she was going to take down the ‘escaped prisoners’. I raised my hands flame flickering from all my fingers.
As the gate dropped into the floor I waited until I could see the Captain above the top and then fire flew from my fingers. To the Captain’s credit she died bravely as she drew her sword and charged but she collapsed just before she reached me but her sword fell downward and caught me across my left cheek. It will probably leave a scar. I saw Ralof dispatch the other soldier as I drove my axe into the kneeling Captain’s skull.
I had heard that magic users had a magicka reserve that is expended as they use their powers. I had learned a hard lesson about this that left a scar. I heard that with practice magic users could get more efficient and even expand their reserves. I knew though that I still didn’t know enough yet to have a real opinion.
While Ralof went through the bodies I dealt with my wound. It was deep enough to leave a scar but not deep enough to be bleeding all that badly. Once the bleeding stopped, I grabbed the Captain’s sword, her arm guards and her imperial boots. I would have taken all her armor but I didn’t want to be mistaken by an Imperial by any Stormcloaks that might still be running around. I prefer heavy armor but in my mind wearing a full set of Imperial steel plate might be a magnet for people I wanted to fight with not against.
Ralof opened the other gate with a key he had found and we went through. My feelings of the walls smashing in diminished as we went down some stairs into what was obviously underground area. That feeling was replaced by a fear of the ceiling falling in as we rounded a corner and just in front of us the ceiling collapsed with the sound of dragon ringing overhead.
“That dragon, does not give up easy,” Ralof observed.
There was a door to the right and so I opened it and found a kitchen area and two Imperial soldiers gathered around a barrel. The officer in steel armor was trying to urge the other one to get going, but the other soldier in studded leather Imperial armor was talking about potions. The officer suddenly found himself engulfed in my flames. As he charged though I let off the flames just in time to get my sword out and parry his blow and then I drove it into his armpit and he collapsed. The second soldier was soon overwhelmed by me and Ralof.
After gather a sack and some items of food and drink we plunged even further into the depths of the dungeons of Helgen Keep. Rounding the next corner we found the torture room and the Imperial torturer and his assistant fighting with two Stormcloaks. The torturer was a mage of some kind as lightning flew from his finger tips so I targeted him with my flames. Once I got his attention, I drew my sword and plunged it into his chest.
Every Stormcloak was alive and now we were joined by a man with a iron battle axe and a woman with a war axe and hide shield. I found a knapsack so I filled the contents of the sack I had been dragging around into it and added three books and some lock picks. In one of the cells we found a dead novice mage so I stripped him of his robes and found a spell book in his possession. I put all these items in the knapsack and threw it over my shoulders. In another cell, I found a skeleton with a bad of coins. It didn’t take me long for my blood to be boiling as I found Stormcloaks in cages that were dead with obvious torture wounds. Imperial justice once again.
We found a hole in the wall that lead into some natural caves. We followed the cave through about three turns when it open up again into an obvious made made area. There were many Imperials here and we had to fight our way through. I burned one and then drew my sword and went after two more and killed the both. The Captain’s sword that was now mine was covered in Imperial blood. Fitting. The battle had been quick and the element of surprise had paid off. We had killed them off without losing any of us. The downside though was the other two Stormcloaks stayed behind to wait for Ulfric if were to come that way. Ralof and I plunged ahead.
We found a wooden drawbridge and lowered it using a lever. No sooner had both of us crossed it, that we heard another dragon roar. We looked over our shoulders just in time to see a large stone crashing across the bridge and more stones close over the tunnel on the other side. We had only one way to go so we followed the running stream as it flowed downward. At a narrow place it went into a hole we couldn’t follow but another tunnel veered to the right. As I traveled the short distance I felt my skin grow bumps and I could see the cobwebs. Much bigger than normal spiders so it could only be Frostbite Spiders. We would lose small livestock to them sometimes in the village. In the chamber ahead I could see three of them about the size of small dogs but the place also had egg sack all over. I raised my hands, flame flickering. Spiders and fire are never a good combination. I let lose when I got close enough but even as I crisped the first two, two more dropped from the ceiling that were easily three times the size of the first three. I burned one of them and then drew my sword. Ralof plunged his axe into the other large one and then I dispatched the last smaller one with my sword.
“I hate those damn things, too many eyes you know” Ralof summed up my sentiments exactly.
Down another narrow pass in the caves we came out to a large natural open cavern. We continued on for a while until Ralof dropped into a crouch and told me there was a bear ahead. There was cart and some blood as well. A wounded and angry bear. I could see her ahead in the pale light of the cave. Ralof handed me a bow and some arrows but I dropped them. I crept forward hands in flames. When we got close enough I let loose. The sow never had a chance. I went back and collected some alto Wine and a bottle of Black-Brier Mead along with some gold.
We kept moving and then we felt it – wind and fresh air with it. Rounding a corner we saw the light of day and in seconds we were out in the open again. We had survived Helgen and I was truly free again.
Next: Three Bandits and a Shrine.