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Swordsong (Story)


Started by Thorfinn
Post #11024
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Nord
Swordsong

Rurik had wanted to come too, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He might have been some years Thorfinn’s senior, but he was also a husband a father. There was a reason Gisela had sent word to her brother; Draugr were not to be trifled with. Rurik could swing a sword, but he was no warrior. To him, pride, rather than desire, drove him to protest his exclusion. But the prospect of a real test, something which he might be able finally to put to music, ran clear in Thorfinn’s mind.

Their steading seemed very different from the day he first saw it, when it had been nothing but rotten posts. It was now filled with Rurik and Gisela’s children, with their cries and whoops as they raced across the yard, playing at battle. There was no reason for them to fear for their father on this dark morning. So Thorfinn marched through the light, crisp snow alone, the joy of battle flowing through his veins. He was warm, even in this weather, so the breeze was welcome, the air above ground would soon be replaced with the damp stillness of a crypt. Thorfinn had faced Draugr before; he had delved into some of Skyrim’s dark places. But never alone, without a shield-sibling to watch his back. Indeed, a good test.

“Lo now I see, the shuffling men of old
Their blades are dull, their eyes are cold”


His voice was low and melodic, something akin to humming words. Perhaps that might make a good opening verse. Something that might wet the audience’s appetite for the glory to come.

“Oaths they made, ere the world was new
So still they walk, still to their lord they hold”


Aye, something like that. There was bound to be an overlord in the crypt. Always was.

He was near, and it was time to write an ending to his song with axe and with shield. Thorfinn unwrapped his long cloak and thick fur mantle, hanging them over a nearby fir branch. The bulky over garments revealed his patchwork armour. Woollen tunic and trews, dull browns and greys, over which a thick bearskin tabard was buckled by a large leather belt. Leather too were the scarred spaulders strapped to his upper arms and shoulders, a kind gift from an arrogant Dunmer who couldn't hold his mead. They were a little tight on his massive shoulders, but better than nothing. He wore too thick leather bracers while his boots showed his roving existence better than any song he could sing.

Thorfinn slipped his axe free and pulled his left arm through his shield straps, gripping the boss tightly. He stepped down into the dell, toward the stairs and then down into the cairn. The air was close, but eerie torchlight spluttered from sconces on the walls.

Thorfinn Thorfinnsson began to let the heady rush flow through him, loosing his maddening desire for battle. The first rattling Draugr that swung its legs out from a wall bracket lost them to his axe. A second’s skull was caught between his shield boss and the wall. He roared his name into the catacombs, daring the dead to come and face him. They came.

The narrow corridors restricted them, but they restricted him too, Thorfinn’s axe required room to generate its lethal force. So he drove at them, jabbing his shield forward, trying to hook the blade of his axe over a collar bone or rib, to snap and shatter. He weighed more than they did, and their blunt steel could not cut the thick bear pelt he wore. Thorfinn scattered them back into a larger room, and there he went to work, great cuts and backhands showered fragments of bone and sinew over the floor. They moved with such predictable slowness, their blows ever inviting a counterattack. The pale deathly fire was extinguished from their eyes, and soon around Thorfinn there was nothing moving, living or dead.

He pressed on, not even stopping to tend a long shallow cut to his thigh. Some conscious part of him realized he was bellowing his name like a war chant. He didn’t know if their spirits remained here, but if they did, the dead should know who had sent them to Sovngarde. He stormed into the central chamber, roaring his challenge. There the torches dimmed, and before he knew it, darkness covered him. Like a cloying wind, the cold, at once more chilling than the winds of Skyrim, went through him to the bone. Without his cries, the cavern was deathly silent. The icy cold numbing his faculties, Thorfinn struggled see his foe in the gloom, and yet even as he did so, he heard the soft footfalls of the Overlord draw closer. A shape, hunched and skeleteral drifted out of the blackness, coming together seemingly out of a black void. Before him stood the Draugr, woven with a cloak of frost and ice. His foe, his challenge.

“Sovngarde Saraan!”, the creature rattled.

That checked his fluttering heart. Thorfinn flexed his shoulders and dropped into a crouch, feeling the chill abate, welcoming the frenzy to him again, bathing the exiliration.

“Aye then, I’ll send you to Sovngarde.”

The Draugr came for him, a longsword to hand, and they hammered at one another with reckless fury. Despite the age of the blade that struck it, Thorfinn’s shield soon began to give way, the strong willow planks yielding to the old steel. And he could not break past its defence. The sorcerous cloak of ice lashed at his exposed face and arms, drawing blood from dozens of shallow cuts. The sweat on his brow froze. He gave the thing a big crosscut, trying to catch the old blade plub, to shatter it, and catch it he did. With a hollow crack, his axehead gave way, leaving him with half an axe and a shattered shield. It was faster than its minions, or the cold had slowed him, and it followed up with a vicious lunge that tore a furrow through his bearskin. Thorfinn threw his useless weapon at it, and raced toward the dais, looking for something else with which to defend himself. Shuffling feet followed him. He began bound up the stairs, feeling the cold come nearer. Then he stopped, turned and pushed off with one powerful movement. He hammered into the Draugr, through its cloak of ice, already past it sword reach, spearing it to the ground in a heap. He felt bone giving way to his bulk when they landed, and blindly lashed out again and again with the mangled shield boss. He rolled away, and pushed to his feet.

Before him lay the overlord, trying rise, but the Draugr’s ribs and spine were a shattered mess. Withered skin and bone where torn clean away from its chest and left shoulder, which was hanging by tendon and sinew. Its blade lay between them. Thorfinn bent down and scooped up the rotten wooden handle, which crumbled away nearly as he grasped it. The hilt was a simple thing, short curved steel sweeping down. It was loose, rattling as he adjusted his grip, while the pommel was long gone. The blade was long, flared and smooth edged as a new-forged sword. So lost in wonder was he that only the scrape of blade in scabbard broke his revive. The overlord had unsheathed a second blade, a Saex, with its good arm and had propped itself up against the dais.

Thorfinn ended it quickly, flicking aside the weak parry of his once mighty foe and severing the exposed spine near the hips. He watched as the balefire eyes faded into shadowed sockets. He picked up the Saex from its motionless hand. It too was beautiful in its own way, sleek, purposeful even, a blade for close work. The saex was unscarred, through Shor knew how old it was. Carved into the exposed tang were archaic runes some kind. They mean nothing to him, their secrets long gone from Tamriel. He stripped aside some rotting wood on the handle of the longsword, and saw the same symbols. In the light, the blades were things of exquisite beauty. An inch in from the edge was plain silvery steel, but the central channel was full of swirling, rich patters, like a breath of smoke laced through with pale mist.

The son of Thorfinn sat himself on the edge of the dais, under a thick stream of light cast through with dust. He set to work on his wounds, as far as he could. The small scratches on his face and arms were nothing, and the wound on his thigh bloody but superficial. He searched through the room, finding some worn but serviceable gold coin, and pair of gemstones, an amulet. In one pottery bowl near the throne he found a pair of arm rings. One showed the motif of a running wolf, and each end wore a wolf’s maw. The second bore the raven, and each end was wrought into the shape of a small wing. They were tarnished iron, undamaged but for some surface rust and they were twisted and woven like a braid. Thorfinn filled his purse with the coin and gems, tucked the amulet into his belt and bent the armrings around his biceps. Gathering up the blades, he limped out into the bright morning and the crisp air.

Blinking under the gaze of the sun, he felt a surge of happiness. A new song to sing, old blades to wield, and it was a beautiful morning. He tore a strip of cloth from his cloak and tied up his leg with rough efficiency. Time to be off home, if not for long. No, not for long. There were always deeds to be done.
This post was last modified: December 11th 2013, 10:59 AM by Thorfinn




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The following 4 users Like Thorfinn's post:
cadian13, Horizon Seeker, MargieArgie, Triskele
Post #11061
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Nice. :) I like the "Norse legend" feel the story has, very fitting.


Count only the happy hours.

Character bios:
Selah Medanas - Fatimah
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Post #11070
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A great read, delving into a dangerous tomb and claiming new weapons to live by.


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

Taren Jucanis - Imperial Deserter (Used for The Black Shroud RP)
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Post #11927
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Excellent read, great job :D Tris has an um...interest in tombs herself ;D




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