I had recovered the stolen dragon claw artifact for the store owner in Riverwood, had cleared out the bandit from the mine south of town and and even gotten into a fight with a couple of necromancers who were experimenting outside of town. But now it appeared that I had exhausted the possibilities of this corner of Skyrim and it seemed as if the time had come to head for the big city. I set out northward from Riverwood towards the hold capital of Whiterun.
As I passed through the farmland surrounding the hold city I saw several warriors fighting a giant. I loosed an arrow at it and the giant fell almost immediately after.
I approached the warriors and one of them, a woman who introduced herself as Aela the Huntress, thanked me for my help. I tried to downplay my involvement but she insisted that it was rare for them to discover someone who’s skills were worthy of notice.
Aela told me that she and the others were Companions, a mercenary warriors guild located in Whiterun, and suggested that I apply for membership in their ranks the next time I was there. Having made no real contacts since arriving in Skyrim I told them that I would do so and followed them towards the main gates of the city.
As we approached the guards passed my new companions through the gate but stopped me. He did not recognize me as a citizen and with the civil war underway the guard was extremely cautious about who they let in. What, I was asked, was my business in Whiterun?
I was not in the mood to argue with the local guards but remembered the request I had been given a few days previously and told the guard I had come from Riverwood with news of the dragon attack on Helgen. His tone immediately changed and he quickly ushered me into the city, urging me to take my information straight to the Jarl.
I didn’t see my new-found companions inside the gate. I decided I would look for them but first figured that I should discharge my obligation and headed through town to the Jarl’s palace.
Inside I found the Jarl in an argument with his advisers over how to deal with the civil war. To his credit he was trying to stay out of it, probably the best move, but his attention quickly turned to me. I introduced myself and told him why I was there then found myself recounting the dragon attack in Helgen (while diplomatically deflecting questions on why I was there).
The Jarl’s reaction was immediate. He ordered additional guards dispatched to Riverwood and the other cities. His adviser warned that either the Empire or the Stormcloaks could take that as a threat, disrupting the neutrality he was attempting to maintain, but the Jarl angrily responded that the safety of his people came first. My opinion of him immediately went up several notches at that.
Before we could speak further a runner arrived, out of breath. A dragon had been spotted at the western watchtower.
The Jarl quickly ordered his housecarl Irileth to take a squad to deal with the threat then turned and asked if I, as the only one with actual experience with dragons, would accompany them. I hesitated, then agreed. It would be good to have highly-placed friends if the Empire came by looking to complete their interrupted execution.
The two of us proceeded to the gate where we were joined by the rest of the squad then sprinted to the guard tower. A dragon was indeed circling the area but it did not appear to be the same as the one I had seen earlier. I didn’t get to examine it too closely though, as it suddenly swooped down and clawed a guard off the tower. Without thinking, I pulled out my bow and loosed an arrow in its direction. I’m pretty sure I missed.
The next few minutes were a blur. I circled around the ruined tower, trying to get an open field of fire on the dragon while trying to stay out of its literal field of fire. Eventually the dragon crashed to the ground. I approached it, curious to see what one of these beasts looked like up close.
Suddenly, swirling ribbons of energy erupted from the dragon and flowed towards… me. I felt a surge of power and an almost orgasmic release as they entered me. I felt more energized, more alive, than I had ever felt.
The energy transfer ended and I watched as the dragon disintegrated before me; it’s flesh eaten away by a consuming flame from inside that left only a skeleton behind. Then I realized that all of the guards were staring at me.
“You took… its soul!” said one of them.
“Dragonborn!” said another.
I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my head and understand what had just happened. “Um… what?” I finally asked.
“The Jarl needs to know about this!” Irileth told me. “Right away!”
She pointed towards Whiterun. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to the Jarl again right away, but I also didn’t think I wanted to ignore a direct order from the Jarl’s personal guard, especially with a dozen of her colleagues standing by. I nodded and started back towards the town.
As I approached the main gate, a cry like thunder came from the skies, rocking the land and the walls around me with its force.
I looked around but did not see anything and the gate guards seemed as mystified as I was. I re-entered the town and made my way back towards the Jarl’s palace.
He was waiting for me, along with his advisers. Apparently one of the guards had run back to town ahead of me because he already knew of the energy flow from the dragon.
“They tell me you are Dragonborn!” he said. “Is this true?”
“I… don’t know.” I told him. “I absorbed… something from the dragon as it died.”
“Then it is you the Greybeards are calling for.”
I shook my head. “The who?”
“The Greybeards. The priests who live on the top of High Hrothgar. It is strange. They have ignored us for so long. But now, the dragons have returned, and it seems the Dovahkiin, the Dragonborn, has returned as well. They have summoned you, Dragonborn. You must travel to meet them.”
“Riiight.” I said.
But the Jarl was not finished with me yet. He thanked me for the service to his city and named me the Thane of Whiterun! I guess he did believe that I was this “Dragonborn” and felt the need to get on my good side. Whatever the reason, I needed friends and tried to thank him modestly.
It seemed that my new title gave me a housecarl of my own, a Nordic woman named Lydia. I spoke to her briefly and she seemed a capable warrior. It would be good to have a capable companion by my side so I accepted her company.
I was also told that as a new citizen of Whiterun I would be able to purchase a home for myself within the city. I had not money with which to do that at the moment, but I promised to keep it in mind.
The Jarl, Irileth, Lydia and I spoke briefly, then the Jarl urged me on my way. I stepped back outside of his palace and looked down on the city of Whiterun.
“Dragonborn? High Hrothgar? Yeah, right. I wonder what those Companions are up to.”
I set off down the steps into town and towards the Companion’s longhouse.