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First Planting


Started by Grimhild Urdenheimr
Post #37123
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First Planting: The 7th of First Seed, 2E 557

Grimhild stood, silently contemplating the two other men in the room. One was a stranger. The other had been the closest thing to a father Grimhild had ever known. Both of them were dead.

Oddly, in that protracted and surreal moment, it was the stranger who held greater interest.

He knelt by the stranger’s body. Pointed ears, high cheekbones, charcoal skin, and armored in a sort of thick, waxy leather that resembled the sweat-stained carapace of a giant dung beetle, the stranger lay face up on the floor of the cave, his blood-red eyes staring impassively upward at nothing. Grimhild knew only one other Dunmer, but whereas Dran was old and wizened, this Dark Elf looked very young, perhaps not much older than Grimhild. He was much darker of skin and hair than Old Dran, and thickly-muscled—very much the picture of health and vitality; that is, apart from the oozing cleft in his center of his chest where Svelod had embedded his axe.

Svelod the Red was propped up against the rough stone wall not three paces away. If his hair and beard had once been a fiery red, as they said it was, the color had long since yielded to dingy gray and white, though the old bandit remained formidable enough with his axes. Old Dran was fond of recalling the many times he and Svelod had wadded through the melee mire, he called it, and each story seemed to end with mighty Svelod standing breathless among the dead and dying, clanging his steel axes together with a frenzied smile on his face, and dripping head-to-toe with the blood of his enemies. And it was that violent propensity rather than his scalding red mane that earned Svelod the Red his name; for it was unlikely, being the thieving Nord bastard of a thieving Nord bastard, that he ever had a proper surname to begin with.

To hear Svelod tell the same stories sounded very much more like he and Dran got drunk and hid beside the road waiting for unwary passers-by. Svelod lay in the bushes with his axes, and Dran perched in a nearby tree, bow drawn, like some sort of clumsy Bosmer. But Svelod, unapologetic as he was for the darkest of his deeds, was ever honest, owning none of Old Dran’s knack for good storytelling.

Likewise, Grimhild was a quiet and severe youth, and not in that way alone did he resemble Svelod; and so, it was only assumed amongst rest of the gang (or perhaps they were privy to some knowledge deliberately concealed from Grimhild) that the boy was Svelod’s son. But if that were the case, one might never guess from the way he was treated. When Svelod took note of Grimhild—during those rare occasions when he could bother himself about the boy at all—he remained cold and distantly resentful.

It was as though Grimhild had once done Svelod some great ill that the boy was too young to remember and his father was too old to forget.

Svelod lay on his back, bearded chin pressed against his chest, as though soundly sleeping. A beautiful green sword unlike anything Grimhild had ever seen was sheathed hilt-deep in his gut. It slid from effortlessly from the wound with a low slurping sound. The length of the short blade was emerald green, nearly translucent near the edges despite the thick membrane of Svelod’s curdling blood.

He pressed the back of his hand to the old man’s nose. No breath. Grimhild blinked, surprised by his own indifference. No grief, no anger; he instead regarded the old man with the same cold disgust he had always felt in his presence. He wiped the blade against the breast of Svelod’s tunic until it was clean, leaving dark smears across the old man’s chest. It clinked against the thick iron chain his father always wore. Long had Grimhild wondered what was in the old footlocker at the foot of Svelod’s bed, but he hadn’t expected he’d ever have the chance to find out.

As he slowly unlaced the front of Svelod’s blood-streaked tunic, he was struck with a terrifying sense that his father’s eyes were about to fling open at any moment. He fumbled with the laces, trying to hurry. Around the old iron chain hung a large key, warn smooth and oxidized. The rusty old chain had stained a thick green track around Svelod’s throat.

With the key in one hand and the emerald-green dagger in the other, Grimhild left by the small wooden door partially concealed near the back of the room. Bones hung from the ceiling in long strands, which Grimhild was careful to avoid. He crouched, moving as silently as he was able while his heart pounded like a sledgehammer in his chest. He knew he was alone; nonetheless, he felt shaken as he crept into his dead father’s chamber. Perhaps the knot in his stomach had less to do with getting caught and more to do with what he might find in the footlocker.

An ebony dagger. It seemed too heavy for its size, yet perfectly balanced in Grimhild’s shaking hand. A few rubies and emeralds among a heavy coin purse. A pendant. Grimwald regarded his inheritance soberly for a moment, feeling rather cheated. All these years, I wondered what was in this footlocker... he mused. He always imagined that the prized possessions of the great Svelod the Red would amount to more than an fancy dagger and some coin. A lost Daedric artifact, perhaps. An ancient and priceless tome. An Elder Scroll maybe… yet there he stood, and that was all there was.

The pendant was undecorated, but solid gold. It would no doubt fetch a fortnight’s comfort in Riften. With a sigh, Grimhild decided that was aught where he should go. No sense in hanging around with the others, wherever they were, and whatever they might decide to do now.

But then he noticed that the pendant swung open. It was a keepsake locket; and inside, smiling up at him was the likeness of a pretty young Nordic girl. She was fair, with dark hair like Grimhild’s, and large blue eyes. Ornate letters were engraved into the inside of the hinged lid, “Lysa Urdenheimr of Ebonheart.”

Ebonheart? As in Morrowind? Who was Lysa and why did Svelod keep her picture in his footlocker?

It was finely made, a clear likeness for as old as it was. She was very pretty. And he realized in that moment, as though he had always known, that Lysa Urdenheimr was his mother. He stared at the locket for a moment longer, closed it, and hung it around his neck.

Indeed, there had been something priceless in his father's old footlocker after all.

The boy smiled. For the first time in his life, Grimhild felt like he had a direction. A reason. Somewhere he wanted to be. A question in need of an answer. He took his time packing: his best boots, a wide leather belt that sheathed his new daggers securely into the small of his back. Boiled leather from shoulder to shin and a long woolen cloak. He even remembered to take Svelod’s heavy fur helm although it was a little too large for him. It was lined with red foxpelt with a broad iron noseguard and a soft leather straps that buckled under his chin. He felt almost princely as he readied himself to leave.

A moment later, Grimhild found himself looking down at Svelod once again. The old bandit’s body seemed to wilt, pale and bloodless on the floor. Farewell father, he thought. It may be that I’ll see you again in Sovngarde, should there be a place set at the table for bastards such as us.

With no great difficulty, he lifted the Dunmer stranger, and carried him out of the cave. On the way out, he saw Clara the Miser laying on the floor with her head half-severed. In the storeroom lay Andor and Jojr, the brothers from The Reach. It looked like they had been dispatched while they were eating. Andor hadn’t even made it out of his seat. He sat alone at the table, face down in the remnants of his last meal. Jojr lay nearby, his bowels strewn open like a lapful of purple snakes.

Grimhild glanced at the young Dunmer in his arms, wondering what on the face of Nirn could have enticed him to sneak into such a remote and unimportant bandit cave. Was it for treasure? Some old vendetta? Or had he just wandered aimlessly by, a sort of questing knight errant? He doubted very much in that moment that he would ever know for sure. He also doubted that he would find any of his fellows alive.

It was dark by the time Grimhild carried the stranger outside. Old Dran lay dead by the glowing coals. It must have been his turn to keep watch. The old Dunmer’s gray hair was caked with dried blood.

Grimhild built a pyre and burned the stranger’s body. He didn’t know if that was an appropriate funeral for a Dark Elf, but it was the best he could come up with. He burned the stranger with all of his belongings: his strange armor, his sword, and the unusual triangular pendant he wore around his neck--a tribute to his Dunmer gods, perhaps--everything but for one exception. Grimhild kept the beautiful green dagger that killed his father.

It was late that night before the flames burned low. Grimhild took a deep breath, looking skyward. Skyrim’s crisp air filled his lungs, but winter was fading.
This post was last modified: February 16th 2013, 12:46 AM by Grimhild Urdenheimr


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Post #37158
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This story, or something similar, will likely be my submission to a TESO short story comp, so I appreciate any and all critiques!


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Post #37160
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That's actually really good. Solid sentence structure and it flows well. You described everyone bar Grimhild, but, I don't think that detracts from the story in anyway, in fact, I think a description of Grimhild might've made it feel a bit clunky.
Good luck in the competition because that was a thoroughly enjoyable read.


@Velaskae on the NA megaserver.
<Glory Seekers> Looking for capable adventurers and people to chat with.
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Post #37168
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Thank you, @Velaskae

I made some edits. Typos, mostly.

I thought of this story as sort of a different perspective on all the many bandit caves I cleared in Skyrim. I thought to myself, "wait, that was someone's home." haha.

I also wanted to give my character a reason for leaving Skyrim and settling in Morrowind as he did for "Exodus."

I also wanted to insinuate that the stranger was a questing adventurer; specifically, a Buoyant Armiger, though I admit that detail is subtle at best. It's not terribly important.

"First Planting" is the early-Spring holiday of renewal and fresh starts. Seemed appropriate.
This post was last modified: February 10th 2013, 01:49 AM by Grimhild Urdenheimr


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Post #37254
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A genuinely enjoyable read, and I did pick up on the Armiger, from the 'knight errant'. I look forward to reading more!




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Post #39618
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I liked the set up of the story, and how it progresses to subtly mention different characters and their fates. It's like taking a walk through a surreal dream full of people you once knew.


Character Profiles:
Endaros Ilmori - Buoyant Armiger
Sunrio - Aldmeri Justiciar

Taren Jucanis - Imperial Deserter (Used for The Black Shroud RP)
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