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Thread: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

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    Gandalfus's Avatar le Roi de fer
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    Default [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    Hello all,

    This is a story that will take place in the Elder Scrolls Universe, primarily depicting the timeframe, setting, and events of Skyrim, though depending on how the narrative develops other locations and settings may be explored. The central character will undoubtedly be the Last Dragonborn of prophecy, with this tale following his exploits in Tamriel. The title isn't exactly self explanatory... But I don't want to spoil anything, so all will be revealed in due time .

    This is being played on Skyrim Special Edition, and so I have all DLC plus a fair few mods on top of that. It doesn't really effect gameplay, as this won't be a very screenshot heavy play through. I'll be updating this OP as I go along with chapters, characters, and the like. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of writing creatively again.

    Act 1: The Wheel


    Chapter I: The Prisoner


    Characters


    Primary:

    Aranath Direnni

    Aranath Direnni was born forty-two years ago in the Direnni Tower, Heiroc, (or High Rock, as the Imperials call it) as a full-blood member of the Direnni line: a grandson of the esteemed alchemist Vorian Direnni. Due to some unknown disaster, Aranath was banished the court of Daggerfall (and by extension, the Direnni Tower) and forced to flee as far as possible from the province. In 4E 201 Aranath was arrested crossing the Skyrim border on accusations of smuggling, and was taken to Helgen along with the Stormcloak rebels to be executed.

    Though the Direnni clan have intermarried on occasion with the Bretons, they retain the long lifespans of the Altmer - therefore Aranath is likely only in the early phases of his life cycle. However, their long absence from Summerset has led to physical differences: their eye colour and skin colour varies slightly with those elves who were born and raised upon Alinor. They are more 'Bretonized' elves, and are more attuned to the customs and traditions followed in High Rock and the Empire than those observed within the Aldmeri Dominion.


    Secondary:

    Hadvar of Riverwood: A Nordic officer in the Imperial Legion.

    Ralof of Riverwood: A Nordic member of Ulfric Stormcloak's rebellion.

    Ulfric Stormcloak: Leader of the Stormcloak Rebellion. Jarl of Windhelm.

    General Tullius: Military Governor of Skyrim. Commander of the Imperial Legion in the province.

    Last edited by Gandalfus; April 16, 2018 at 09:53 AM.

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum

    I look forward to seeing your story develop!

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    Gandalfus's Avatar le Roi de fer
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum

    First chapter is nearly finished. For now, a teaser.

    Thalmor Dossier: Aranath Direnni


    Found amid a collection of other similar documents within the Thalmor Embassy in northern Skyrim, detailing persons of interest to the Dominion in the province.


    Status: Low priority. Capture if able, but the subject is considered too dangerous to confront openly.

    Description: Male Altmer. Age unknown.

    Background: It is an enigma to us how a member of the Direnni clan made their way into Skyrim, survived the dragon attack at Helgen, and subsequently rose to the position of a Nordic culture-hero through the slaying of a dragon. His true loyalties are a mystery; it seems very unlikely that he would co-operate with the Empire given the events of Helgen, nor with Ulfric Stormcloak due to the latter’s hatred of our race. Nonetheless, the threat this target poses should not be discounted. Whilst this so-called “Dragonborn” would undoubtedly be an asset to our organisation, for the time being the emissary deems it wise to leave them to their own devices whilst gathering information on whom this individual is associated with or beholden to.

    Operational notes: Collect information upon the subject and his associates. Avoid direct contact unless there is no other option. If the individual begins to act against the interests of the Dominion in Skyrim, this should be reported to the Third Embassy immediately so that the status of this target may be reconsidered.


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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum

    Your teaser is well done, I like the idea of introducing your main character (assuming that he is) in a Thalmor report.

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    Gandalfus's Avatar le Roi de fer
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum

    ACT I: The Wheel

    When misrule takes its place at the eight corners of the world
    When the Brass Tower walks and Time is reshaped
    When the thrice-blessed fail and the Red Tower trembles
    When the Dragonborn Ruler loses his throne, and the White Tower falls
    When the Snow Tower lies sundered, kingless, bleeding
    The World-Eater wakes, and the Wheel turns upon the Last Dragonborn.”

    - The Prophecy of the Dragonborn




    Chapter I: The Prisoner


    "Each event is preceded by a prophecy. But without the Hero, there is no event."

    - Zurin Arctus, the Underking.


    The Altmer that sat bound and silent in the prisoner’s cart had come to Tamriel’s roof from the Adamantine Tower, the site where in ancient myth Convention was held and the devil Lorkhan was slain by the elf-gods Auri-el and Trinimac. For millennia it has loomed above the lapping waves of Illiac Bay, and for many of those years this seat of mysteries has served as the home of the Direnni clan, who, at their apex, ruled much of High Rock as wizard kings, though three ages have passed since their hegemony fell to mannish blades. Nonetheless, they and their line still bear the name of Direnni with pride and venerate the many powerful magicians and conquering warlords that count amongst their ancestors, and this one was no different. For many hours of their journey he had lectured the unfortunate Imperial soldier escorting them as to the importance of his family to High Rock and the Empire, though to the amusement of the Nords his exasperated remonstrations fell on deaf ears. Now he simply sat in aloof silence, bitterly contemplating that he would meet his end here for little reason other than ill fortune. It seemed that the same primal force that had led him here had once again dealt him a poor hand of cards.

    For the past two years or so, Aranath Direnni had been on the run from his family and the court of Daggerfall, with both having longer arms than one might expect. Naturally, it wasn’t his fault. He had simply become entangled in events beyond his control, and that had led him to being accosted by imperial soldiers whilst trying to gain passage across the Jerall Mountains with a pack of ne’er do wells. Mistaken for a smuggler, he’d been thrown in a dingy cell in a border fortress known as Neugrad, and largely forgotten about until the triumphant arrival of the Imperial Legion with a horde of prisoners in chains. Whatever war had begun in Skyrim had apparently already ended, for amongst the captives was the recalcitrant Jarl of Windhelm, on his way to meet the Emperor himself down in the Imperial City. There was enough of these ‘Stormcloaks’ to fill all the cells of Neugrad twice over, but they were packed into the prison nonetheless. Aranath’s cellmates were none too pleased to see an Altmer, and he’d certainly borne some japes and threats at his own expense, though admittedly he had taken great delight in irritating them as much as possible.

    But there had been a change of plan. One of the guards had explained that the General wished for an immediate show of force. They figured they’d take no chances on the Elf. Like the rest, he was bound up and taken to Helgen, the miserable little town that the column of wagons and soldiers now approached.

    “You and me. We shouldn’t be here. Its these Stormcloaks the Empire wants.”

    The words came from Lokir, one of those who shared Aranath’s carriage. Like the elf, the grubby little horse thief had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time: caught stealing a horse by the outriders of those who had captured Ulfric and his men. The Altmer replied with a simple look of acknowledgement, golden eyes conveying helpless irritation. The ‘High King’ himself sat alongside them, a scrap of cloth shoved into his mouth. Why they’d bothered to gag him, Aranath had no idea: he doubted that this taciturn Nord could have been able to talk the Imperials to death, if that is what they feared. In fact, it was doubtful that Ulfric could say anything interesting at all. Nords were all fools, and this one seemed particularly more stupid than the rest in causing all this trouble at the expense of others.

    The fourth member of their little fellowship, another Stormcloak, spoke up as the archway of Helgen’s gates passed ominously over them.

    “Look, the Thalmor. I bet those thrice-damned elves had something to do with this.”

    He looked over at Aranath with a grimace that half resembled an apology, but the Direnni in rags remained detached, glaring over at the Altmer in question. They were locked in conversation with an aged imperial – the General, judging by his armour’s gilded plate – ignoring the rebels as they passed. Despite the capture of Ulfric, they did not seem too pleased, though he doubted that those Thalmor types ever really were content. They bore an eternal grudge against Man that they were not going to forget, a quarrel that stretched back to the Convention of yore. They paid no mind to the carriages passing in front of them. Likely they thought him to be a traitor for living within the Empire, and a heretic besides. He decided it would be futile, nay, humiliating, to beg for their intervention, remaining in stiff silence as the imperial war drum heralded their doom. Bitten by the cold, he shivered, and cursed himself silently for letting his weakness show before these who had been moulded and shaped in this harsh land. Shrouding their journey from Neugrad to Helgen had been a fog as thick as peat, but, judging from the lack of interest from the Nords, such weather in Skyrim was to be considered normal. What kind of frozen hell was this?

    The carriages ahead were coming to a halt. The Stormcloak and the horse thief were bickering amongst themselves, but Aranath had almost forgotten they were there. Faced with the inevitability of death, the elf had retreated within himself, a solitary moment of reflection upon his life. Regrets numbered amongst the many, and achievements numbered amongst the few. Ultimately, he’d decided that it would be better if he died here in some unremembered corner of the world, a forgotten footnote of the Direnni family that could no longer bring shame upon that ancient house. He trudged forward, and to all the world his eyes were dead. A list of names was being read aloud, with some Nord in the legion’s colours asking for his own. “Aranath Direnni” he murmured in reply, only half-aware of the question. The man’s brow furrowed visibly, turning to another human clad from head to foot in steel.

    “But… He isn’t on the list…”

    “Forget the list. We can’t take any chances.”

    “I’m sorry. I’ll make sure your remains return to Summerset Isle…”

    Humans simply assumed elves were all the same, and in this moment the Direnni could not muster the will to correct the error. He shuffled forward, legs carrying him reluctantly to the gathering of the condemned. Bile rose as he joined the morbid crowd of those waiting to be slaughtered, and he struggled to repress it. Lokir, the horse thief, had tried to run, and collected a few arrows in the back for his troubles; his corpse had been carried out of sight, likely to be tossed into some unmarked grave. There was no escaping from this fate, and all there knew it. An eerie silence had fallen over all those gathered within Helgen’s square. From the scores of wooden houses surrounding them had onlookers emerged, and another crowd had formed of those who wished to watch what would surely be a momentous event for them: the end of a war, the death of a rebel. For them, the curtain of Helgen’s walls had been pulled back, and the light of the outside world allowed to shine through. And it was not pretty. They stood like statues in the whistling wind, watching coldly as the last rites droned on.

    “For the love of Talos, shut up, and let’s get this over with.”

    A foolish Nord with hair like fire stepped forward boldly, shattering the silence. It was brave, Aranath begrudged, though laughing in the face of death was always futile, for it would not change your fate. And just like that, his head was gone.

    “Next, the High Elf.”

    His legs felt like lead. The Nords watched him, muted, as he willed his body forward. His mind became a cacophony of noise: prayers to Auri-el for salvation, to Phynaster, for guidance, to Mara, for mercy. Memories joined them. Of life and laughter, of love he’d never know. The touch of the Zero Stone, the enigma of the Argent Arpeture, still unsolved. And behind it all, the ponderous rhythm of his heart. He faced the sky, with the headsman looming over him, his instrument of death at the ready. This was it. At least it would be painless. Death would soon welcome him into Aetherius with a warm embrace.

    There was pain, but not that of death. A roaring thunderclap split his ears, and the sky turned crimson. Coiled atop of Helgen’s broken tower was… Well, Gods only knew what it was, but the visible wall of noise it created threw both the executioner and Aranath into the dirt. The elf let out an audible groan, his mind throbbing, his limbs burning. This was good. This was what it meant to be alive.

    “Come on, elf! The Gods won’t give us another chance!”

    The Stormcloak from the carriage, Ralof, wasn't it?, had apparently managed to free himself from his bindings. He hauled Aranath to his feet manfully, as if he weighed nothing. The whole world was spinning, and the clouds above them were an inferno. Helgen had broken out into utter chaos as prisoners intermingled with townsfolk in the desperate attempt to escape. In the face of this sudden terror, the legion had forgotten all about Ulfric. In panic, they had scattered, arrows and magic doing nothing to stop the death.

    “My thanks, Nord.”

    Grunted the Elf in response, half-crouching as he tried to catch a sight of the beast that was now circling above the town. It was massive, scaly, and building fire. He wouldn’t have believed it had it not just turned half of Helgen to cinders. Fear and fascination went hand in hand; there had not been the sighting of a dragon in centuries, and for a moment he lost himself in watching this magnificent bringer of death lay waste to all in its path.

    Ralof yanked him away once more, nearly pulling him back into the dirt.

    “By Shor, have you lost your wits?!”

    He bellowed above the screams of the dying, hauling Aranath with him into a nearby tower. Inside, there were a few Stormcloaks gaining reprieve from the madness. Ulfric himself stood just inside, glaring briefly at the elf as he entered before Ralof caught his attention. Another rebel lay on the cold stone, groaning, armour and flesh seared away by dragonfire. He was being tended to by a companion, but it was clear that she had little grasp of magic.

    “Untie me. I can help him.”

    Demanded the Direnni, offering his bonds towards the would-be healer. A Nord, obviously, with dirty blonde hair closely cut to her shoulders. She was dishevelled and filthy, like all the prisoners, though some of that mannish pride remained. With a scornful glare, she rebuked him, tightly gripping a dagger of broken iron.

    “I don’t trust your magic, Elf, and I don’t trust you either.”

    Aranath remained impassive, trying hard to control the anger that gnawed at the pit of his stomach.

    “He’s been badly burned. Without my help, he won’t leave this tower alive.”

    She hesitated, and looked to Ralof, who was watching the exchange unfold. Eventually, his Nordic saviour gave the briefest of nods, which seemed enough to convince her.

    I don’t understand how these damned Nords think. Do they really believe I would kill them out of spite?

    Soon enough, he was free, though his wrists were now a little chafed. Gently, he knelt by the indisposed Nord, who was slipping in and out of sleep, aware that the others were watching him like a hawk. Close your eyes. Focus. His father’s voice echoed, from a time before this madness. Not having slept or eaten well in weeks had taken its toll: he wasn’t anywhere near being as strong as he was used to. It took great effort to find whatever magicka he had left, but it soon arrived, coursing through his blood and flesh. Energy flowed through him and sweat poured down his forehead as the Nord’s body knitted itself back together; what was once burned flesh turned into battle scars, mottled by the memory of the dragon’s fire. But he would live. Aranath, however, was almost spent.

    “Kyne guide you, elf.”

    The female Nord was sheepishly hauling up her friend, and the Direnni smiled thinly in satisfaction. Slowly, he rose again, dizziness overwhelming him.Ralof placed a firm hand upon his shoulder, perhaps detecting the fatigue. The Nord's eyes, however, were looking upwards, towards the tower roof.

    “If we don't move, all that will be for nothing.”

    It seemed the Stormcloak was right, for on cue the entire tower shook with the force of an earth-tremor.

    Not good.

    They ran up the winding stairs, discovering that a gaping hole now existed where the wall once stood. Soon, there would be nothing left of this tower but rubble.

    “You first, Elf. Jump!”

    There was an inn below them, within a stone’s throw from the dragon-made hole in the wall. Steeling himself, he leapt, tiny splinters piercing his hands as the wooden panels broke his fall. Dusting himself off, he ran for his life, not looking back to see if the Stormcloaks were following him. Dropping down back into the town, he was confronted by the sight of another familiar face: the Nord that had been reluctant to condemn him to death, pulling a young boy away from the dragon’s fire. He offered the Direnni a look of recognition.

    “Still alive prisoner? Follow me if you want to get out of here alive. I’m Hadvar, by the way.”

    This Hadvar was armed with a sword, so Aranath thought it best not to argue, falling in quickly behind the legionary. What was left of his legion was clearly in tatters. Tullius was with his men by the gatehouse, and they seemed to be throwing everything they had at this dragon, to no effect. In fact, it seemed as if it didn’t even notice their efforts and continuing to incinerate what was left of the town square, arrows and spells bouncing harmlessly off its stone-coloured hide.

    “How in Oblivion do we get out of here?”

    Aranath shouted above the din of battle, panic audible in his voice. The gatehouse had collapsed upon itself, leaving their only exit a pile of ash and rubble. Hadvar grimaced resignedly, before an idea dawned across his face.

    “Come on, into the keep. With any luck, the caves underneath will be our way out.”

    It wasn’t much. Only a hope. But going in there held better odds than standing out here in the cold waiting to die.

    “Fine. Lead on then.”

    It soared over the top of them, now turning its attention to Tullius’ men who were now organising a retreat of their own, either by climbing over the rubble or following Hadvar’s lead and making for the keep. Those who remained behind as a rearguard were making a noble sacrifice, for the dragon was taking to them like a scythe to wheat. But it was too late to look back now. Together, he and Hadvar hauled the gates to the keep open, disappearing within to reach what would hopefully prove to be safety… And freedom.



    Some notes:

    - Didn’t want to do unbound a disservice but I imagine anyone who has played Skyrim has been through it half a hundred times by now. Following chapters will hopefully be a lot more interesting to read (and write).
    - I’ll try to fit in some screenshots, but even my heavily modded Skyrim doesn’t exactly compare to newer games like TW3 in terms of graphics. Also had some size issues with them but they should be easily solveable.

    I suppose that’s it from me. Next chapter will probably be up when I can find some time to write in between assignments and RPG work.
    Last edited by Gandalfus; April 21, 2018 at 11:56 AM.

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    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    Nicely done, I enjoyed the way that you introduced us to Aranath's heritage - and the dramatic moment when he faces the headsman is well done. Looking forward to more! (Screenshots would be a nice bonus, but they're optional.)

  7. #7
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    This is a nice beginning! I'm very much looking forward to finding out where this will go.






  8. #8

    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    Very interesting start! I liked how the guard assumed that he is from the Summerset Isles. I wonder what would have happened if they found out that he is from the Direnni family, running from both the Court and the Direnni Tower... Already like your bretonish Aldmer. Looking forward to seeing what's going to happen!

    And curse you, now I want to play Daggerfall

  9. #9
    Gandalfus's Avatar le Roi de fer
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    Icon7 Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    Not an update, but I have been playing around with some screenshots - both in the AAR save and another. Just wanted to check they looked up to scratch and the sizing is alright.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    And thanks for all the comments. Much appreciated

  10. #10
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: [An Elder Scrolls AAR] The Doom Drum [Updated 16th April 2018]

    Your screenshots look well-chosen to me, I'm intrigued by the distant tower on a mountain top (or what seems to be a tower). Looking forward to the next chapter!

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