LoudOwlParticipantDecember 19, 2017 at 12:40 pmPost count: 14
I’ve been working on my SRM inspired fic for months now. I shared a link a while back, but I’m now up to Chapter 18! I’ve got it up on Wattpad and AO3. Would appreciate a like or a kudos if you have the time and enjoy reading it. I’m going to share each chapter on here as well as I write if you’re all interested. There’s already 18 chapters up on the platforms linked above, but I’ll try and post a new one here weekly as well, starting from Chapter 1. Criticism welcome. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Chapter 1: Forged in Ice
The weight of her clothes dragged her downward, drowning her in water so cold it threatened to flay the skin from her bones. She jerked and flailed, the needle-sharp frigidity of the water searing her lungs as she took in mouthful after mouthful of the salty liquid. She kicked and writhed, struggling to the surface, only to be sucked back down as her head found nothing but the solid wood of the ship’s hull above her.
In a last attempt at self-preservation, Aellana kicked out, colliding with a beam below and pushing off to the side hoping to find fresh air at last. Relief washed over her as she felt the harsh slap of the icy air as her face broke the surface, her hands grabbing for purchase on a passing piece of debris. Below her she could see the remains of the galley, curiosity turning to horror as she saw the body of the ship’s cook under the water, trapped beneath a table he’d been working at only a few moments before.
Dragging herself through the bowel of the ship Aellana tried desperately to get her thoughts in order. The shock was still raw, and her mind fuzzy. All she knew was that she had to find the crew and get off this vessel. She was a Nord, but even this water pushed at the limits of her tolerance for the cold. But the Breton crew she’d sailed with? Her father? She didn’t hold out much hope for their survival.
Aellana summoned a mage light to illuminate the oppressive darkness. The silence was eerie, punctuated only by the tortured groaning of the capsized ship’s wooden hull as it was buffeted by waves. She tried to create a flame in her palm to stave off the creeping cold, but her shivering limbs and growing sense of panic made it difficult to concentrate on keeping it lit. Three years of training, failing her now, in this first test of her endurance. She could have cried with the futility of it.
The longer she stayed in this wooden tomb, the more likely it was that she’d never escape it. Three years away from home, training as a mage in High Rock, only to die on shore, drowned in the very vessel meant to carry her to safety. Even in this dire situation, she could appreciate the poetic irony it.
A magical ability like hers was rare in Nords, but her father, Tynand Ereland, was a Breton, a people known for their magical aptitude. They’d been returning from High Rock where Aellana had chosen to pursue her studies. She and Tynand had travelled together, spending time with his people and getting to know his culture before settling down to life in Skyrim where she would complete her studies at the College of Winterhold. It had seemed like a sound idea at the time, but one that now seemed ill advised.
It felt like hours had passed in the freezing waters, but it was likely only minutes. Time appeared to have lost all meaning as she searched her surroundings, desperate to find a way out of her predicament. Finally, she found a hole in the hull where the ship had run aground. Breathing deeply she pushed herself below the icy surface and out into the open waters, swimming to shore as if her life depended on it, which, given the numbness spreading through her limbs, it likely did. With the last of her strength, Aellana pushed herself onto the snowy shore and looking around, realised that she was alone, the lone survivor of a crew of 30 souls. Her friends, gone. Her father…she couldn’t dwell on that yet. Tears pricked behind her eyes, falling onto her cheeks and freezing where they fell, and as grief overtook her, everything faded to black.
Her whole body ached. Aellana’s feet and hands felt red hot, yet still numb, and her head was pounding. But most surprisingly, despite her physical discomfort, she was warm. It took a moment for her to come to terms with her surroundings, the last events in her memory seeming more like a nightmare than reality. But as awareness returned she found herself sitting up with a start, panic threatening to overwhelm her.
“Hush child, hush” came a soothing voice from her side. She whipped her head around, raising a hand, filled with flame to ward off any would-be attackers.
A woman sat at her bedside, a calming smile on her face, making soothing sounds, and wordless pleas for calm. Aellana tried to speak, but her voice came out as more of a croak than any audible sound as she let the flame die down, embarrassed at her show of aggression.
“Don’t try to talk yet. You’re still half frozen. It’s a wonder you survived.”
Survived? A shipwreck. Yes. It hadn’t been a dream. The panic rose in her belly and threatened to overwhelm her once again.
“The ship…my…father…” she managed to croak out.
“Was your father on that ship?” the kindly voice enquired. “I’m so sorry my dear,” the woman soothed, placing a comforting hand over hers. “You were the only survivor.”
“No….not…..possible.” The panic was rising and rising. Her father, dead? Tynand was her world. They confided in each other, did everything together. They were two peas in a pod, more alike than different. Where her mother was all spikes and anger, her father was gentleness itself. He’d fostered her love of magic, had made her childhood the happiest it could ever have been. He couldn’t be gone. It just wasn’t possible.
“I truly am sorry,” the woman’s face showed genuine concern. “I wish I could have seen you wake to happier news.”
Aellana turned her head away, ashamed to let the woman see the hot tears that stained her cheeks and holding back the sobs that threatened to wrack her already sensitive body in waves of misery.
The woman retreated, allowing Aellana her privacy, leaving her alone in the darkness and alone with her thoughts.
“You’re awake!” The woman behind the bar started in surprise as Aellana emerged from her room. The noisy inn overwhelmed her senses at first, and she felt herself sway on her feet, trying to get her bearings amid the strange smells and sounds. The pain was slowly fading. The physical at least. The emotional scars would take far longer to heal.
“I wanted to thank you for your kindness,” Aellana said after a moment, taking her time to collect herself. “I don’t know how I got here, where I am, or who you are, and you must know even less about me. But you took me in, and I thank you.”
The woman smiled kindly. “I’m Elda Early-Dawn, and this is my Inn, Candlehearth Hall. You’re in Windhelm.”
Windhelm. Stronghold of the Stormcloaks, the rebel faction intent on continuing the worship of Talos and keeping Skyrim ‘pure’ for the Nords. With a Breton father, Aellana had always hated the Stormcloak’s attitude to the other races of Tamriel. Being here now felt like a disservice to his still raw memory.
She’d grown up South East of Whiterun and had very rarely ventured as far North as Windhelm. She’d certainly never visited the city itself. Her Breton blood craved the warmth, and the never ending winter of Windhelm seemed like a life of torture in comparison to the milder climates of the South.
“Aellana Evensnow,” she said, holding out her hand to the other woman in companionship. The look of surprise on Elda’s face didn’t escape her notice as the other woman realised who her family was, and who her father would have been. “How did I get this far North?”
“Your ship wrecked not far from here.”
Their ship must have been sent off course and overshot Winterhold in the storm. She remembered it clearly. The ship being tossed about like a child’s toy at the mercy of the elements. She’d been frightened, and her father had held her close on the bed, stroking her hair, trying to soothe her fear by telling her everything would be alright as he had done when she was a little girl suffering from night terrors. But he was wrong. He was dead. Nothing would ever be alright again.
“How did I come to be in your Inn?” she asked, pushing down the tears that threatened once again.
“A passing rider stumbled upon the wreck. He went down to look for survivors and found you passed out in the snow. You’re lucky he found you when he did. A few moments longer and you’d have been dead.”
“Yes, lucky.” She didn’t feel very fortunate. She would happily have traded places with her father, to know that he was alive and well. But instead, here she was, in a city that hated him, being looked after by strangers.
“I know it’s hard. I lost my own father a few years ago.” Aellana cursed herself for letting her thoughts show so clearly on her face. “The pain, it doesn’t go away. But you will learn to live with it.”
She nodded at Elda in thanks. Platitudes were not what she needed right now, and she appreciated the older woman’s candour.
“Do you think word could be sent to my mother? I feel well enough to travel, so should return home. But she should know as soon as possible what has happened, to make,” Aellana swallowed past the sudden lump that had appeared in her throat, “arrangements.
“Of course my dear. Whatever you need.”
Aellana had never had a close relationship with her mother. She doubted that a three-year separation would have improved it much. Her parents had been very much in love once, but over the years her mother had become much more invested in status and wealth than in genuinely caring for her husband or child. It was a relief to all of them when Aellana and Tynand and taken their leave to spend some time in High Rock. But still, to expect a reunion after three years and only to find one’s family torn apart by death? Even someone as hard as her mother would be touched by the tragedy of it all.
She didn’t allow herself to dwell on the reunion with her mother overlong. That her mother remained in the South, living in luxury, spending her father’s money, while Tynand himself lay mouldering in a watery grave was almost too much to fathom. Instead, she turned her mind to the practicalities of the moment.
“If I could trouble you for some travelling clothes?” The older woman nodded in quick assent. “I have no money. I suspect it’s all at the bottom of the ocean right now, but I will be sure my family reimburses you for all you’ve done for me.”
Elda waved her hand dismissively in Aellana’s direction. “Nonsense. It’s the least I can do. I’m sure I have something for you to wear, and I’ll happily give you some coin for the journey.”
The tears came hot and fast then, not tears of pain, but tears of gratitude. She fell into the woman’s arms, allowing herself the solace of her warm embrace, letting the pain of the last few days stream forth in loud, angry waves. Elda held her, stroking her hair as her father once did, and for the first time since running aground on the shores of Skyrim, Aellana didn’t feel alone.HelenaParticipantJanuary 7, 2018 at 6:19 pmPost count: 159
I love this story and have read it on Wattpad. Keep up the great work.
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