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Falauren
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The sun was beating down, adding to the discomfort of the already restless crowd. It had been getting warmer for over a month now, and the heat coupled with countless stamping feet had turned the ground into a muddy nightmare of melted sludge. In the middle of the great throng, a circle had been cleared for the coming duel. Standing there all by himself, was a young man. And despite looking bored and sullen, nobody could help being impressed by him. He was tall and muscular, with long fair hair and cheekbones to shame an elf. His armor was polished to a mirror sheen, and decorated with golden vines. He was the very image of what a champion should be. What was more, he was punctual. They had been standing in this hot sludgy mess for over an hour waiting for the other combatant.

 

It took another half hour before something finally happened. The crowd parted, and a huge figure stepped into the ring. People strained their necks and pushed their friends to get a good look at the new arrival. They had heard great tales of this champion, and were immensely disappointed by what they saw. Big as he was, he was old. His beard, though massive and shaggy, was almost completely grey. The hair on his head was basically nonexistent, and his face looked like wrinkled old leather.  He looked like a beggar compared to the radiant image of splendor facing him. The young one drew his sword, and called the customary challenge. The old one simply nodded in reply, hefted his shield and drew his mace.

 

Falauren sat down with a groan. His back had been aching a lot lately, and this duel had forced him to move in ways men his age really shouldn’t. It could have been worse though, his opponent was dead after all. With another even louder groan he gingerly stretched his bad leg out in front of him. “Attend me! I need help getting this blasted armor off”. As an afterthought, he added “And somebody fetch me a plowing drink, and better make sure it’s cold!” The servants hurried to do his bidding, knowing that the usually kind old warrior got a bad temper after fighting. Had they known the reason for this they would probably have hurried even more, but in the direction of the nearest exit. His wolf blood boiled closer to the surface than ever, as the years passed it had only gotten worse. He had given up battles altogether, and it took great effort not to transform during or after a simple duel like this one. And even when he fought it down it left him angry and sullen.

 

Ereled The Cunning, Jarl of Whiterun, was quite pleased with his huscarl’s performance, and so he was offered the privilege of accompanying the jarl in his own private carriage on the way home. A few years ago Falauren would have preferred to ride, but these days all that bouncing around just made him hurt in places he had never even noticed before. So he graciously accepted.

 

The jarl had a smug look on his face as he said: “You did well today, this victory will lead to good and great things” Falauren nodded, he usually allowed Ereled to do most of the talking. Which worked out perfectly, because he loved the sound of his own voice. The first few minutes pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip, and by the time they got home, Falauren was longing for his bed. As they climbed out of the carriage though, Ereled fell. Falauren caught him in both arms, and suddenly he was no longer in Whiterun holding a jarl. It was a grey morning with a dense heavy mist creeping over the ground, and in his arms he held a dying Xivilli. In a way he knew this was not real, but he could not help but look at the length of wood protruding from his friend’s stomach, as he always did. But before the scene could continue, he was called back to reality by Ereld telling him: “Yes thank you, about time to let go now!” Falauren sighed and stood up. He had been planning to go to bed, but now it was time to get pissed.

 

Falauren tossed and turned, he had gotten drunk in hopes of drowning out the nightmares. It did not work, it never did. It started as it always did, with him clutching the dying Xivilli on that misty morning in Cyrodiil. He was as powerless to do anything now as he was then. As the last life slipped from his friend, he got up. He ran, frantically looking around for the others. Suddenly the cackling laugh of a maniac sounded from everywhere at once, and then he saw Tonal. He was laughing hysterically with blood bubbling from his mouth, his lower body was crushed beneath a huge boulder. Stumbling on, there were dead or dying friends everywhere. Most of Caius was missing, but the left leg and piece of torso were enough to identify him. A thought formed in his head, Idas. If he could just save the general, maybe everything would be alright. If the general survived, surely he would fix all this. Unfortunately he had drawn the attention of some blurry shapes, dressed in ugly jagged armor. They came running at him, weapons raised. This was always unclear in the dream, to this day he was not sure how he had killed two armed and armored orcs while unarmed and disoriented. He stumbled another few paces before spotting his target. Idas was half conscious, being dragged away by two orcs. Falauren tripped over a rock and fell unto all fours. Only then did he notice that Idas left trouser leg was missing, along with the limb that should fill it. He let out an anguished cry, halfway between a roar and a wail. That drew the attention of the other blurry shapes. They came towards him, and as always, that was when the dream ended.

 

He awoke with a roar. Luckily the servants had long since gotten used to his nightly outbreaks, and no one came to check on him. He sat up in bed, and buried his face in his hands. Desperately he tried to stop the oncoming tears, but soon chocking sobs were rocking his body. He spent the rest of the night curled up into a ball, weeping like a child.

 

At breakfast, Ereled could instantly tell Falauren had been crying. He was not surprised, well aware that his huscarl was prone to night terrors and tears. Other jarls might see it as a sign of weakness, but not him. Divines only knew what that man had been through. Frankly, he thought to himself, there would be cause to worry if he did not cry. Besides, he had proven himself to be anything but weak over the years. And so he simply pretended not to notice the red bloodshot eyes, or the swollen bags beneath them. With a motion to the chair at his side, he bade him sit down.

 

Falauren gratefully sat down in the place of honor Ereled had given him. He had to smile at the jarl’s cleverness. Falauren refused to hide his tears of the signs they left, gossip be damned. And by seating him in a place of honor in everyone’s view, Ereled was basically daring anyone to speak up about it. Predictably, no one did. Everyone at the longtable ate in silence. Even the usual comments about falauren’s morning brandy, which most seemed to think was a bad idea, went unsaid. But there was no missing the displeasure on Ereled’s face. He did not mind tears or night terrors, but his huscarl did drink an awful lot. And it seemed that every passing day he drank even more.

 

Falauren put the quill down and sighed. For months he had been trying to write down some of the things he had experienced while with House Hlaalu, he did not want the stories to die with him. But it was proving difficult. He was no writer, and somehow the words always seemed to come out wrong. Frustrated, he reached for his ale. Slowly, his mind wandered where it always did when not distracted. The ambush. It had not been some great battle, or a heroic last stand.

 

They were simply moving from one fort to garrison another. Well behind their own lines, they were not expecting any danger. Which had made the ambush all the more successful. Somehow the orcs had set of a rockslide, which did most of the work for them. He had later found out that the orcs who set the ambush specialized in that kind of warfare. Getting behind enemy lines, hitting and running and of course ambushes. After the slide itself it had been an easy matter to round up or kill what survivors there were. Falauren was still ashamed at how meekly he had been captured, but after seeing Idas all the fight had gone out of him. Escape had been far from his mind, his will completely sapped.  The only reason he did escape was the cruelty of the orcs.  Safely behind their own lines again, they had decided it was time for some entertainment. Apparently they greatly enjoyed torturing their prisoners. And being one of the few who actually killed some orcs, Falauren had been first in line. They tied him down with knots able to hold even the strongest of nords, but they had not planned on wolves. He remembered the torture, what little they got time for. After that his mind was once again blank, but he woke up on the border to Skyrim with green flesh stuck in his teeth. Falauren shook his head, trying to chase away the memories. He took another long swallow of ale, and picked up the quill again.

 

Falauren was in a foul mood, he had been denied his breakfast brandy. Ereled and he had made a deal long ago, no drinking before duels. He really regretted that these days. Today’s duel would be a short matter anyway. Nor was it a very important quarrel being resolved. Some dispute about a mill in between two holds and whom it should pay taxes to. And for that he had to forfeit his brandy, ridiculous. And now even the servants refused to bring him a mug of mead before the fight. Apparently they were more scared of Ereled than him. “Hrmph!” he snorted, causing one of the servants strapping on his armor to jump. “Calm down you twitching fool, a snort never hurt anybody!” Apologizing profoundly, the servant hurried to continue his work. He had heard good things about the huscarl he was about to face, but then again the last one he killed was supposedly unbeatable. People said all sorts of things, and quite a few were now convinced he was unbeatable as well. All of it horseshit, there is always some faster and stronger than you, and the more you fight the quicker you find him.

 

The usual excited whispers and murmurs greeted Falauren as he entered the ring. For once he was the first combatant to arrive. He tested the ground a bit, good and solid. No mud or abundance of stones. Perfect, he was not all that nimble on his feet anymore.  The murmurs grew louder, a sure sign that that his opponent was approaching.  Falauren looked up, and the sight that greeted him made his jaw drop. “You? Bu…bu...but you… youre alive?” He barely managed to stammer the words out. His opponent simply shrugged “So are you” Falauren was baffled, he had always thought he was the only survivor. He had spent years searching for others. Yet here stood his opponent in the flesh, looking very much alive. Before he could say anything else, the announcer started calling out the feud that was to be resolved and the other customary introductions. He barely remembered to draw his axe before the fight started. His opponent gave him no time, immediately pressing a relentless assault. He barely managed to block and parry, before having to dodge a fireball. They clashed time and time again, and to the spectators it seemed dead even. But Falauren knew which way the wind was blowing, this was going to be his last fight. His opponent was not slowed down by aching joints, and did not have terrible chest pains from drinking every day. If you fight long enough you always find someone stronger and faster than you. And the more you fight the quicker you find him…..or her. And Falauren had been fighting an awful lot. As they lunged at each other again, his opponent tried to stab at his abdomen, Falauren tried to twist and parry, but he was to slow. He felt something punch through his armor, and then something cold slide into his stomach. Coughing blood all over his opponent, he managed to croak “damn wart”. As the blade was pulled out, he let out a long sigh. This had been a long time coming.

 

He awoke in a lush forest, a thousand rich scents on the air. It was difficult to think, every sound or movement caused his head to twitch around. One thing was for sure, this was not Skyrim. His hands went to his stomach, he could feel no wound. As he was about to pull his hands away, he realized something. Fur, he felt fur. As he was about to look down, a horn sounded in the distance. A deep booming horn, unmistakably the horn of a hunter. Of thee Hunter. But instead of filling him with dread, it instilled in him a fervor. He wanted to hunt, needed to taste flesh. He was the hunter, not the prey. He felt no guilt, needed no drink. For the first time in over 40 years he felt free, unburdened. As he brought his clawed and fur covered hands up before his face, a single thought echoed through his primal mind. Finally!

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Come to me, Stendarr, for without you, I might be deaf to the manswarm murmurings of thy people, and forgetting their need for comfort and wisdom, I might indulge myself in vain scribblings.
AngelofDance5613
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re: Falauren's End

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whoa...



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