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Thread: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

  1. #1

    Default Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR


    Foreword Greetings, Dragonborns.

    It has been a long while since I dabbled in Skyrim, but once I started again, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to do a Skyrim AAR. It's my favourite game aside from the Total War series, I love the gameplay, the graphics, and especially the soundtrack. It's an amazing game and I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't have it yet. I know I announced this AAR a few weeks back, but I didn't give any details. Well, wait no longer, for here they are.

    This AAR will be a sort of continuation from my previous one, The Astray Apprentice. First and foremost, you do not need to read The Astray Apprentice to follow this story, while it may use some plot elements from that AAR, everything will be explained in full, so don't feel pressured to read up on that one (especially since all my screenshots are gone) if you want to follow this one.

    Also, if you ever have any requests or want to see anything happen in the story, just let me know and I'll try my best to fit it in. I'm always open to suggestions, critiques, and advice, so feel free to point me in a particular direction or give me a tongue lashing when you feel that I need one. Other requests can also be accommodated, so if you want your name or a particular moniker in the AAR, just hit me up, man.

    Lastly, I love referencing other games and stuff when writing, just to see if anyone notices it. Similarly, sometimes in my chapters I make very subtle references to major plot points. If you can catch these, props to you!

    Now, if you're still reading this, I must congratulate you on your attention span (it is longer than mine at any rate) and thank you for your time. For AARs to exist, there has to be both the author and the readers, and you, my friends, are supporting this AAR and others just by reading it. It would be a pleasure to make this story an enthralling one, both for me and for you.

    Cheers
    Swaeft




    Lore I know what you're thinking. How much Lore do you have to know in order to understand what's going on here? The Skyrim universe is a big one, and there is so much to read about it. You can spend days delving into the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages reading all about the trivia, but for me, I don't want my readers to have to go through that. Once again, everything will be explained. And I promise it won't be a chore to remember. I didn't read more than 3 UESP wiki pages to understand what I was going to write about, so there's that for a benchmark.

    Now, for those of you loremasters or those who have played Skyrim before, I must say I am going to bend some of the lore to fit this story. What I mean is that I usually base the story elements off actual Elder Scrolls lore, then continue with my own version from there. I think the prologue will make it clear.


    Small Note on Images and Music All my images are resized to 77% of the original size and centralized. If anyone, for any reason, would like the full size of any image, feel free to PM me.

    Occasionally in certain chapters I might place a ♫ symbol. This symbol, when clicked, will take you to a music video on YouTube. It's something new I'm trying out, to see whether the BGM would enhance the reader's experience. I must stress that this is entirely optional, you do not lose anything by not listening to the music, in fact, I'd rather you read it through normally, and only click on the music symbol if you want that extra auditory experience. Bear in mind that not all the music might be suitable, after all I picked them based on what I felt was appropriate, and you might not feel the same.

    As a general guide, I only pick soundtracks that don't have sudden loud crescendos, but you should also not listen to it too loudly just in case. It's also not a fixed feature in every chapter, some chapters might not have them. In order not to disrupt the flow of reading too much, I'll also limit this to one soundtrack per chapter at max. Also, I'm aware that not everyone has the same reading speed, and you might spend longer admiring looking at my screenshots than I anticipate. I've tried to pick pieces that aren't too long or too varied, but in any case, if you feel this feature is too confusing or complex, feel free to disregard the symbols and read on normally!

    ♫ in green means the music should start here. Click the symbol, wait for the YouTube page to load, and when the music starts, go back and continue reading.
    ♫ in red means the music should stop here. For example, when the scene has changed or the tone of the setting has become different enough to warrant the track being stopped. This will not always be shown, for if the music is a short piece or starts near the end of the chapter, I leave it up to you to decide when you want to stop listening.



    This AAR would not exist without Mods. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all the modders who spend their time creating works of art that thousands of people get to enjoy. All mods used in this AAR will be credited here, though for some of the more story-related ones, I will only add them here after their relevant chapter has been posted in order to avoid possible spoilers. If I have missed out any at all, I am truly sorry and would appreciate an immediate correction.

    List of Mods Used:



    • Weapons and Armor

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    aMidianBorn wolf armour and skyforge weapons by CaBal120
    Cloaks of Skyrim by Nikinoodles
    Improved Closed Faced Helmets by navida1
    Immersive Armours by Hothtrooper44
    Immersive Weapons by Hothtrooper44
    TERRA, SOL, MARS, VENUS and LUNA by Zikoru
    Perfect Legionnaire - Imperial Armour Reforged by Ali Bengali
    Witchplate by Telthalion


    • Graphics

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Birds and Flocks by dovahsbane
    Deadly Spell Impacts by isoku
    Realistic Lighting Overhaul by sydney666
    Realistic Smoke and Embers by isoku
    Enhanced Blood Textures 3.0c by BakaKemono
    Insanity's City Banner Replacer by InsanitySorrow
    Insanity's Moons by InsanitySorrow
    Insanity's Pale Blade by InsanitySorrow
    Insanity's Dragonbane by InsanitySorrow
    Insanity's Red Eagle's Bane by InsanitySorrow
    Static Mesh Improvement Mod Part 1 & 2 by Brumbek
    Pure Waters by Laast
    Point The Way by Arthmoor
    Revamped Exterior Fog by gargorias
    Ruins Clutter Improved by raiserfx
    Skyrim HD - 2K Textures by NebuLa1
    Wonders of Weather by isoku
    Wet and Cold by isoku

    • Gameplay

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Aeonbarr - a Unique and Smmonable Horse by Zimmermjaz
    Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim by Enai Siaion
    Auto unequip Ammo by mitchalek
    Bandoiler Bags and Pouches by Cyrax
    Convenient Horses by mitchalek
    Equipping Overhaul by DragonDude1029
    Extra Guards by jayr848
    Extensible Follower Framework by expired6978
    Dovahkiin Relaxes Too by PerplexMachine
    Followers Can Relax by King Coin
    Extra Encounters Reborn by SayHelloToMrBullet
    Lanterns of Skyrim - All in One by mannygt
    NPCs Use Ammo - All Bows by Moogiefluff
    Organized Bandits in Skyrim by Indigoblade
    Sit Anywhere by tilokan1337
    Trade and Barter by kryptopyr
    Violens - A Killmove Mod by Reko
    XP32 Maximum Skeleton by xp32


    • Houses and Followers

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Ridgeview House by Samxrr



    Content Page


    Parchment One - The Wanderer
    Lost
    Last edited by Swaeft; January 18, 2019 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Updated Mod List

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    PROLOGUE



    Magic exists to supplement and support, not subjugate.


    Those ancient words had origins from a forgotten age of dragons. From a time when man cooperated against a common enemy. But after that enemy had been driven from our lands, divisions and cracks were exposed, and alliances fell apart. Brother fought against brother, and children murdered their friends.

    But why use primitive bows and arrows when you could incinerate your enemy with a fireball? Why rely on cold, hard steel when an ice spike was more certain to cleave your enemy in two? Why pray for inclement weather to delay your enemy’s march when you could harness the power of lightning to outright destroy them? Mages, fuelled by the power of magicka, dominated the battlefields.


    Too many paid the ultimate price before the bitter truth was acknowledged by all – magic was significantly more powerful than any other form of combat, and had to be regulated or all would suffer.



    From the ashes of the Tamriel's battlegrounds, the Mages Guild was born. It was a noble undertaking, spearheaded by the great minds of the Second Era, with one ultimate aim: To regulate and govern anything and everything related to magic. Universities were founded, chapter houses were opened, and the guild dedicated itself to understanding all they could about the arcane.

    And for a time, they succeeded.

    The Mages Guild became a beacon for, unsurprisingly, mages of all races and abilities. It was the premier centre for education and improvement of the arcane arts, and with time the depth of knowledge understood by the learned men in the Arcane University grew. This knowledge would only expand when each new recruit contributed in his or her own way to the betterment of the Guild. Their influence and prestige grew, and they were eventually officially amalgamated into the governing structure of Tamriel, under the supervision of the Elder Council – the ultimate decision making body in all of Tamriel, based in Cyrodiil, home of the Imperials.


    But as with any great empire or achievement, it didn’t last forever.

    With the Guild growing so diverse and powerful, both internal and external problems arose. Debates sprung up over whether the Guild should allow the more ‘sinister’ and ‘unethical’ forms of magic, such as necromancy, Daedra conjuration, and soul trapping, to be practised within its halls. Groups of mages tended to stick with their like-minded fellows, and soon various cells started to form – some open, some secret. Some races, such as the High Elves and the Bretons, believed that magic should only be practised by those with an innate affinity, and the other races should be excluded from obtaining this ‘power’. And once the arguments over which school of magic was superior started, they became ceaseless, with each school attempting to outdo the other and prove that they were more powerful and useful, sometimes with fatal consequences. Duels between the adepts and masters were not uncommon, and every once in a while an unfortunate novice would step up to the plate, believing themselves adequately trained, and die.

    Political troubles also befell the Mages Guild, as the Emperor and the Elder Council slowly leaned towards the view that the Guild was becoming too powerful and too lawless. The Divine Mage, head of the collection of Arch Mages and the Mages Guild, fell under increasing scrutiny and pressure and was forced to accede to some of the Elder Council’s demands. This only increased the tension between the secessionists, a group of mages clamouring to be free of the influence and overwatch of the government, and the loyalists, who were remaining true to the original principles behind the founding of the Guild.

    It was only a matter of time before war broke out. The Divine Mage and founder of the Mages Guild, Vanus Galerion, gave secret orders for a small group of loyalists to leave the Guild and travel to a sanctuary where they would never be found. In addition, and most importantly, they were to bring with them the Wellspring.

    But when the loyalists tried to move the Wellspring, they realized that there was no way to contain such raw power. Then out of nowhere, they were attacked. Someone within the group had betrayed them, and one of the fiercest battles ever within the Arcane University was fought.

    Details beyond that point are sketchy, but I was informed of what had happened next. The loyalists, losing the battle due to the enemy’s sheer numbers, decided to absorb the raw power of the Wellspring into their bodies. It was the only way to gain the strength required to fight off their adversaries, and transport its power at the same time. Half of the loyalists fell dead immediately, their bodies ill equipped to handle such a strong infusion of magicka so suddenly, but those who survived became all powerful. They carved their way out of the University and headed to what was thought to be an undisclosed location, leaving many secessionist bodies in their wake.

    But I knew where they had ventured.


    They travelled with great haste to the province of Skyrim, and somewhere inside its borders, created a sanctuary in which they never emerged from, and started calling themselves the Mages Hall – a group that would uphold the original principles and ideas of the Mages Guild, but in secret. Even I didn’t know what happened from then on. All I was told was that the loyalists, or I should say, Mages Hall members, tried to re-create the Wellspring by transferring all the power they had acquired into an object, but all died when the last vestiges of magicka left their bodies, something even Galerion didn’t foresee.


    Now, the location of the Wellspring remains lost, a subject of endless fantasies and expeditions. The Mages Hall endured, however, the surviving loyalists rallying to Skyrim and settling there in secret.

    And so the secessionists won at the Arcane University, but it was only a brief victory. After the power of the Wellspring was removed from Cyrodiil, most of the mages were unable to cast the more complex spells and incantations, and even those with their innate affinity, the Elves and the Bretons, struggled to cast even the most basic of spells. As the Wellspring could not normally be suppressed, there was speculation that the Mages Hall members, before disappearing, had nullified its power somehow. The Elder Council saw this as a unique opportunity that would never arise again, and surrounded the near defenceless mages with their armies. The Mages Guild was purged, and countless numbers of sorcerers and wizards died defending it. Many more were hunted down and killed in the days following the attack. When it was over, the council outlawed magic and revoked the Guild Act that authorized the existence of the Mages Guild.

    But it didn’t last long. The citizens and nobles, deprived of even the most basic magic, started to clamour for its return. Sicknesses and illnesses were more difficult to cure, and man’s natural enemies had to be killed by archaic weapons, increasing the death toll of soldiers and guards. As a compromise, the Elder Council reformed the Mages Guild, but kept it under intense supervision, as well as restricting senior leadership to trusted wizards of the Imperial Court. Many other non-aligned Mages at the time were disillusioned when they realised that the Mages Guild was a shadow of its former self, and essentially a puppet of the Elder Council and the Emperor. These mages decided to form two more groups, the College of Whispers, and the Synod, both pursuing the mysteries of magic in their own way, and both trying their hardest to gain the acceptance of the Emperor and the Elder Council. The Mages Guild became populated mostly by the Elves and the Bretons, and by the Emperor’s decree they were the only people allowed to practise and use magic openly.

    And that has been the status quo ever since.

    How do I know this, you ask? How could I know all of this? A fair question.

    My name is Gared Macer, and more than a thousand years after our founding, I am the last living disciple of the School of Restoration of the Mages Guild.
    Last edited by Swaeft; January 16, 2019 at 12:24 AM.

  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    I enjoyed the tale of the rise and fall of the Mages Guild and look forward to learning more of Gared and of the conflict between different schools and guilds of mages.

  4. #4
    The Wandering Storyteller's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Agreed with Alwyn, totally loved this and got a whole AC Rogue vibe from it.





















































  5. #5
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    A wonderful start Swaeft, well done! A nice prologue plus some great screenshots. You can be sure I'll be following Gared's story with impatience!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I enjoyed the tale of the rise and fall of the Mages Guild and look forward to learning more of Gared and of the conflict between different schools and guilds of mages.
    Thank you Alwyn! Many things have changed since the second era and now. I look forward to showing them to you!

    Quote Originally Posted by San Felipe View Post
    Agreed with Alwyn, totally loved this and got a whole AC Rogue vibe from it.
    To my detriment I have never played the AC games, my PC couldn't handle it back then and I don't have the time for it now. Went to read the AC Rogue summary after you mentioned it and my, it does seem like a game I should have spent time on after all

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    A wonderful start Swaeft, well done! A nice prologue plus some great screenshots. You can be sure I'll be following Gared's story with impatience!
    Thanks Turk! Great screenshots are always a hallmark of any Swaeft AAR, you can count on more coming up! If it's impatience you have, fret not! The next chapter should arrive on the 5th! Or perhaps, if I feel like releasing it earlier, maybe the 4th

    Thank you all!

  7. #7
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    I think we all know I've been looking forward to this. So... Apocalypse-style restorationist? That sounds like fun.

    My colleagues are right - that's a great beginning. Lots of drama, lots of mystery. (He's the last living disciple? Plenty of stories there, I bet. )

    I'll be sitting in the audience, waiting for the next update.

    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Hey Caillagh!

    Now now, just because I main a Restorationist (cool way of saying it), doesn't mean I don't use other schools of magic! In fact I think the main reason why restoration is my main is that I try to save my septims by not gulping down health potions and instead healing as fast as I can in battle to restore health. Oh, and I also eat 30 Goat Cheese Wheels in fights, that helps.

    You bet there's a story behind that! And you can also bet that you'll have to start writing again in the near future, once I'm done with Alwyn's AAR, you're next! (Sounds like a hit list, huh?)

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Chapter I: Reflection
    Gared Macer

    Morndas | 17th of Last Seed | Somewhere in The Pale

    For many years I have lived a lie.

    I’d travelled all across Skyrim, pretending to be anyone but me. For a time, I was a rogue throwing in my lot with the Thieves’ Guild, stealing and robbing for fame and fortune. After that, I took a job as a hireling with the Companions, fighting for honour and glory. When I was done, I entered the realm of banditry, joining up with various gangs over the months, preying on the weak and the unprotected. And finally, I decided to serve the Imperial Legion, working my way up through the ranks, eventually earning my current title of Praefect.

    But I wasn’t doing this for fun, or because I didn’t know what to do with my life. All my actions had a purpose behind them.

    Joining the Thieves Guild had helped me to gain a valuable source of intelligence throughout Skyrim. Who else was better at collecting intelligence and listening to street conversations than rogues and sneak thieves? Earning my place in the Guild was not very upstanding of me, but it had been more than worth my time. The information and secrets that we shared and kept saved my life on more than one occasion, and on others, assisted me greatly in making informed decisions. After my acceptance was guaranteed, I discreetly repaid all of my victims beyond whatever amount I had stolen to ‘prove’ myself.


    Joining the Thieves Guild

    The Companions were more of a family to me, a useful pool of trusted and skilled warriors I could rely on and call upon whenever I needed them, and vice versa. It was heartening to know that there were still people out there who fought for the common good, and to uphold their name as warriors of renown and purpose. As I embarked on numerous adventures with them, I grew to respect and admire their courage and honour. I couldn’t say that I made many friends, because they were more than that. They’re all my shield brothers and sisters now. But most importantly, they traced their line back to Ysgramor and the original five hundred companions who had nearly cleansed Tamriel of the elves. That little detail would be extremely important in enlisting their aid later on, should I need it.


    Being inducted into The Companions

    Turning bandit was distasteful, but it had to be done. I hopped from gang to gang, always sticking with the ones that settled around Thalmor occupied areas and dared to rob their caravans. While others were gleefully seizing expensive Thalmor jewels and clothes off the bodies of the dead elves, I was sifting through their chests and documents, looking for information.

    Enlisting with the Legion was something that I didn’t initially plan on doing. I’d joined them purely because it was the most reliable way for me to work with the Thalmor, as detestable as that sounded. Given the frequent ‘collaboration’ between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, Imperial troops were often placed under the command of Thalmor Justicars and officers. Unlike most of the other men assigned to these detachments, I relished the chance to obtain some Thalmor intelligence and details about their operations in Skyrim. Fraternising with the Thalmor was something frowned upon by both the Imperials and the Thalmor themselves, and commanders on both sides made efforts to prevent over-socialising between their soldiers. But that was harder than it sounded. The Legion and the Dominion shared many of the same war camps, canteens, rest stops, checkpoints and the like. It was impossible to fully control soldier to soldier interactions on the ground. I was able to find a few High Elves who didn’t have their infamous superiority complex, and actually desired to learn more about us and Skyrim. I shared what non-confidential information I could, and through gradual coaxing and buttering them up I was able to glean a few important details about their search for the Wellspring. They too had made no headway despite many years of searching, and whilst I was slightly disappointed I would learn nothing from all this effort, it gladdened me to learn that my enemies were no closer than I was to finding this fabled and all important legend.

    I was seriously debating leaving the Legion there and then, my objective completed, but the very next day a transfer order came in: I was to be promoted to Praefect for my year of meritorious service, given co-command of my own detachment, and to proceed with all haste to Solitude to receive orders from General Tullius himself. Apparently, Praefects were considered part of the upper echelon, and worked significantly closer with Imperial High Command than the ranks below them, and once I arrived at Castle Dour General Tullius shared with me his plans for the province. It was then I was convinced to stay on by my father…at least for a little longer. The influence I could potentially gain as a Praefect made it worth remaining in the position. The shiny new armour was nice too.


    Castle forged steel from Beirand at Castle Dour...best to leave that fancy stuff to the elves

    I did all this because I was continuing the legacy of my father and my ancestors, who traced their lineage all the way back to the first Master of the School of Restoration of the Mages Guild. My ancestors were all mages of varying ranks in the Mages Guild, at least until the secessionist revolt, and every one of them took up Restoration as their main school of study. My father told me it was a running joke in the Guild that the Restoration school should have been renamed the School of Macers. One of my ancestors was part of the loyalists that had stayed and fought the secessionists instead of retreating to Skyrim with the Wellspring. According to my father, he escaped the slaughter only with his knowledge of the healing arts. Apparently, he managed to stop his heart and play dead during the horrific battle, then resurrected himself hours later, before they burned all the bodies. Since then, my predecessors had all pledged themselves to the Mages Hall, yet not a single one of them had ever seen the Wellspring.

    After the formation of the Mages Hall, my ancestors volunteered for and were entrusted with the incredibly paramount task of finding the Wellspring.

    And with each generation, we had come closer. My father’s great-grandfather uncovered the fact that High King Logrolf of Windhelm, one of the High Kings of Skyrim in the Second Era, was privy to the location of the Wellspring. When members of the Mages Hall first fled to Skyrim, it was High King Logrolf who offered them safe harbour and invaluable assistance in keeping their location secret, in exchange for the opportunity to study the Wellspring. This opportunity was never realised, when the members of the Mages Hall killed themselves inadvertently during the process of re-creating the Wellspring. In order to comply with the Emperor’s ban on magic as well as to keep the power of the Wellspring for himself, Logrolf did not reveal the site of the Wellspring to anyone.

    Then, my father’s grandfather discovered through the High King’s lost journals that it was Logrolf’s intention to make the Wellspring a kind of trump card to be played if Skyrim was ever threatened by external forces. He intended for the location of the Wellspring to be passed from one High King to another, but his plans were foiled when civil war erupted and his entire retinue was slain before they could unlock the secrets of the Wellspring. By the time of my grandfather, the Mages’ Hall had learned that High King Logrolf’s remains contained some sort of clue as to the whereabouts of the Wellspring, and my father had been searching for them ever since. He had managed to find the final resting place of High King Logrolf, but unfortunately the clues were never found on his body. It was then my father wondered if perhaps Logrolf had hidden it in his personal effects.

    And so it fell to us to discover the whereabouts of Logrolf’s equipment. His sword and shield were untouched by magic, and his armour was burned when he was buried. Our last hope was his crown, which had been lost during the civil war in the Second Era as well, until recently. I requested for urgent personal leave from the Legion, and for the past two weeks, my father and I had been combing the breadth of Skyrim separately, searching for clues that would lead us to the Jagged Crown. It was his decision to split us up in order to cover more ground, and at that time I had no reservations.

    Just last week I was preparing for dinner at the Bee and Barb Inn in Riften when I felt the heat from the amulet around my neck fade away. Having being accustomed to its presence for so long, I’d almost forgotten about it, but when the realization hit me I’d dropped whatever food I was carrying and sprinted to my horse. I rode from dusk till dawn, and damn near killed my own horse, until I reached Falkreath hold. Once there, I had to spend another hour combing through the foliage and looking off the beaten paths, with nothing but the faint burning in the amulet to assist me. Using the amulet my father had given me as a guide, I persevered until I noticed a glimmer of light behind a bush.


    Riding through the night

    My father was in a meditative state, with numerous burn marks on his body. When I drew near he opened his eyes. That right there, was the moment I knew he was passing – the meditation only prolonging his life…and suffering. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him, yet I knew with what little time he had left, he had to be the one doing the talking. The tears flowed freely as he mentioned between gasps the Thalmor attack on the village he was residing in. They believed that a Talos-Worshipper was being given safe refuge there, and as was their way, attacked the villagers on sight, scattering what little guards the village had with their magic. As the village healer, he stayed and protected the innocent as long as he could, but ultimately met his match when a Thalmor mage arrived.

    Remembering how my father died filled me with both great sorrow and rage. He could have run. He should have run. But it was not like my father to save himself whilst others were in peril. I recalled his last words barely managing to escape his mouth as he heaved and seized.

    Remember…our purpose.

    As I watched the life vanish from his eyes, I swore a blood oath that I would hunt down and kill every last Thalmor I ever came across whenever I got the chance. This fury against the Thalmor had been building up within me – this was not a one-time thing. The members of the Mages Hall had been persecuted endlessly by the Aldmeri Dominion, my forebears included. And now the fight had gotten way more personal.

    I travelled to Whiterun to grieve with my fellow Companions and drown myself in mead at Jorrvaskr, and for a time that was all I did. I outdrank even Torvar, who was the mead hall’s champion drinker, yet no one knew the reason for my lamentations and antics. A few days later when I finally sobered up, my surprise could not be overstated when I saw my own detachment stopping in the city for the night. Legate Rikke, my co-commander, was leading my detachment, and informed me that they had been deployed to the Pale on a time sensitive mission. “You were supposed to remain contactable while on leave, Gared. We’ve been trying to find you for two weeks now.”



    My anger could have matched hers when she revoked my leave and ordered me to return to my detachment, but when I inquired as to the nature of their mission, my rage melted away almost instantaneously, and I started thanking the Gods for their favour.

    ****

    “Praefect Macer, sir.”

    The noise of a soldier’s lethargic movement through the heavy snow broke my reverie. I looked up to see Hadvar, my right hand man, approach and salute.

    “Sir, all preparations are complete. Legate Rikke has ordered everyone into battle positions.”

    I nodded and straightened. The time for brooding had come to an end. “Very well. Inform the Legate that I’m on my way.” Hadvar saluted again and left, leaving me to shake the snow off my shoulders and don my Praefect helm.

    I am so close. Within the Jagged Crown lies the piece of information I need. Soon I will feast my eyes upon the Wellspring itself. I sure hope Rikke’s informant supplied us with accurate intelligence.

    I buckled my sword to my belt and stood, groaning as my body was once again burdened by the weight of heavy armour. After a few bouts of stretching, I was satisfied with its distribution of weight over my body, and strode with due haste to the gathering area, where Legate Rikke was already addressing the men. Technically we were both in command of this unit, but her rank and experience exceeded that of mine, so I had no problem letting her be the de facto leader.


    The calm before the storm

    “Gared.” Her voice was stern and unyielding, a perfect encapsulation of the woman. “It’s time. You will lead the charge.”

    “Yes ma’am. I’ll be sure to save some of them for you.” I replied, eliciting a few sniggers from the men.

    If the Gods smile upon me today, my search for the Wellspring will be much closer to fruition.



    Author's Notes
    Hey all!

    Please pardon the backstory, it has yet to be fleshed out, though I promise that it won't be as ridiculous as God's Justice and be a 10 to 15 chapter setup. A few chapters should do it. Also, the character list will come up in the second chapter, and I plan to update the OP with some generally useful stuff for those new to Skyrim as well. Cheers!

    Quest mini-game: The photo in which the Mages Hall attempt to re-create the Wellspring is from the Quest: The Man Who Cried Wolf

    Last edited by Swaeft; January 16, 2019 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Trying out new fonts

  10. #10
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    That's a great opening line, this got me immediately interested in your back-story. I like the way that you show how the skills, knowledge and contacts developed along the way are helpful now. That armour looks awesome! It sounds like Praefect Macer has considerable abilities and social status, but that he has sworn an oath which could cost him everything.

  11. #11
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    I couldn't agree more with Alwyn, that first line really sucked me into this chapter! A great backstory as far as I'm concerned, not dwelling too long on each part but still giving all the information we need to know. And of course the Swaeft signature, some great screenshots!

    Well done, as usual!

  12. #12
    The Wandering Storyteller's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Good start. Eager to read on more! I wonder if Legate Rikke has a thing or two for our character here.





















































  13. #13

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    That's a great opening line, this got me immediately interested in your back-story. I like the way that you show how the skills, knowledge and contacts developed along the way are helpful now. That armour looks awesome! It sounds like Praefect Macer has considerable abilities and social status, but that he has sworn an oath which could cost him everything.
    Thanks Alwyn! I had to condense them into this chapter, but perhaps I'll expand a little more in the very near future Indeed, his mission could put him at odds with what he has built up. Always glad to see you around!


    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I couldn't agree more with Alwyn, that first line really sucked me into this chapter! A great backstory as far as I'm concerned, not dwelling too long on each part but still giving all the information we need to know. And of course the Swaeft signature, some great screenshots!

    Well done, as usual!
    Well I'm not going to reject praise, thank you so much for your kind words


    Quote Originally Posted by San Felipe View Post
    Good start. Eager to read on more! I wonder if Legate Rikke has a thing or two for our character here.
    Thanks San Felipe! Oh boy, I sure hope not, I'm terrified of her

    Side Note: Tried to see how many NPCs my PC could handle, and I got to 100 at once without crashing, so I changed the magic battle photos in the Prologue.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Character List


    Gared Macer - An Adept pledged to the Mages' Hall, currently on a quest to discover the location of the lost Wellspring. Current ranks and titles held - Adept in the Mages' Hall, Praefect in the Imperial Legion, Rogue in the Thieves' Guild, Warrior in The Companions

    Legate Rikke - Co-commander (De Facto Leader) of Praefect Macer's Detachment

    Legionnaire Hadvar - Right Hand Man of Praefect Gared Macer, Legionnaire in Praefect Macer's Detachment





    Chapter II: Tomb Raiders
    Gared Macer

    Morndas | 17th of Last Seed | Korvanjund Nordic Burial Tomb

    We took the Stormcloaks by storm.

    It was a classic ambush. Two sentries felled by arrows, then the next two when they came to investigate. Minimal casualties, maximum impact. When we heard the Stormcloaks shouting alarums, I ordered the charge.

    “FOR THE EMPIRE!”

    It didn’t help the Stormcloaks that most of them didn’t wear heavy armour. Our sword strokes cut through their fur coverings like butter, and our maces turned their leather armour into tatters. The main danger to our unit came from their famous berserkers. Two hander Nords with brutal strength, the Legion found out the hard way early on in the civil war that even a castle forged imperial shield could not stand against their might.

    Thankfully, the archers in my detachment were good shots, and focused on downing those behemoths before they even got a swing at us. I myself charged one before he could draw his weapon, grabbing the giant sword so he could not use it, then slashing his face open with my own blade.



    We would have gotten into the ruins immediately if not for a Stormcloak who had run inside at the first sound of our charge and barred the doors. “This is the only entrance we know of.” Legate Rikke remarked as she sized up the ancient doors. “You four, hack down the nearest tree and use its log as a ram. We’ll batter down this door. And hurry!”

    As the legionaries scrambled to obey, the dilemma that I’d been facing every single day resurfaced again. I could just blast this door down with a fireball. Save the men some hard work and some time as well.

    But that would mean exposing myself as a mage. I was an Imperial, not an elf or a Breton, and by law we were forbidden from practising magic. Besides, I had no idea how the rest of my detachment would react. As the Legion had been bested time and again by the Thalmor and their spells before the truce, most infantrymen harboured a deep resentment for anything associated with magic. I’d been careful not show even a hint of my arcane abilities, something I’d promised myself the moment I decided to sign up with the Legion.

    As I grasped my father’s sword in my hands, I reflected on how my father had left me to fend for myself the day I turned 18. Joining the various guilds was his idea all along, and only recently had I realised just how much it had helped me. Learning how to sneak, pick pockets and locks had saved me from starting many a fight to get what I’d wanted. Associating myself with bandits meant that I had to be responsible for myself, as even though I was considered a part of their gang, bandits were always out to further their personal gain, even if it was at the expense of a fellow gang member.

    But most importantly, I’d learned the art of swordfighting, undoubtedly the most useful skill for me to pick up. Since I could not use magic under the Emperor’s ban, I had to learn how to protect myself with a weapon. Sure, I could have used any weapon, a mace, a Warhammer, or even a bow. But swords were the simplest to master, and my father already had one, and the skill the use it. He taught me the basics, then left me to refine it on my own. Joining the companions allowed me to do just that, and having experience trainers like Skjor and Vilkas watch over me greatly boosted my swordsmanship. Out in the wilds with the bandits, I was able to refine these tactics and methods against whichever opponent I came across, adapting my stances and slashes as necessary. Finally, I was able to put these skills to good use when joining the Legion.

    Father always had a plan…

    “Heave!”

    There was a satisfying crunch as the doors to Korvanjund gave way to the force of ten legionaries pushing an oaken trunk against it. “Onward, and slay them all!” Crying out in unison, my detachment surged towards the Stormcloak defenders behind the entrance. Man to man, it could be argued that the Stormcloaks were better fighters than us legionaries, but we never gave them the opportunity to fight us one on one. Fighting as a unit was more indispensable than any individual’s skill level, something the Stormcloaks learned the fatal way.


    As we progressed further into the Nordic tomb, Stormcloaks that had concealed themselves in the darkness leaped at us from all sides. Our archers were useless here, barely having time to string their bows before they were set upon. I ordered them to fall back to the entrance and guard it. It would only be infantry from here on out.

    The tomb reeked of death and stank of ancient dust that hadn’t been disturbed in ages. The only light came from the torches of our legionnaires, and very rarely, the candles that had been lit by the Stormcloaks that preceded us. A legionnaire remarked about the putrid smell, but was quickly rebuked and hushed by the others.

    One of my men suffered a gash on his knee after an ambush, and another was stunned from a blow to the head. I could heal them, right now…but I can’t. Each battle that I’d fought with these men brought fresh waves of guilt to my mind, but after personally seeing General Tullius imprison magic wielders caught in Skyrim, I couldn’t risk showing that I was one, not if I was to ever find the Wellspring. After every encounter, I called for a tactical pause, assessed the wounded, and sent them towards the entrance. The Stormcloaks were ferocious fighters, and by the time we reached what appeared to be the central hall, we had suffered seven casualties, and were prepared for even more to come.

    But the hall was littered with dead bodies.

    “Draugr.” I cursed. “Seems like the Stormcloaks were fighting them, and this was as far as they got. Check the bodies, there’s gotta be something that unlocks that door, otherwise they wouldn’t have come here.”

    “Thank the draugr.” Someone piped up. “Saved us the trouble.”

    “You won’t be thanking them when they come at you.” Hadvar retorted. “I’d face a Stormcloak over a Dragur any day.”

    “Steady, men.” Legate Rikke kicked the corpse of one of the dragurs. “The Legion’s fought worse than this.”

    “Praefect Macer, sir! Over here!”

    I hurried over to a legionnaire named Alwyn, one of my more experienced men, who was gesticulating animatedly and waving a claw about in his hands. “This looks interesting. The shapes on this claw match those on the door over there!” As he was gushing with excitement, the rest of my detachment started to crowd around us to get a glimpse of this claw.

    “Stand back, men.” I ordered. “And be ready for whatever comes next.” I leaned in to get a closer look at the door barring out way forward.


    I inserted the claw into the hole in the wall, and lo and behold, it came crashing down, leaving me with barely enough time to remove the claw. The stunned legionaries quickly raised their shields, but after a period of time when it was certain nothing was coming out, I gestured for them to advance.

    The clanking of heavy armour resonated and reverberated throughout the tomb. “If anyone is even alive in here, they know we’re here now.” Legate Rikke commented. “Stay sharp, and keep those torches high.”

    “Yes ma – good lord, what is that?”

    The skull of a long dead draugr gleamed almost pristinely under the light of our torches. The non-Nord legionaries peered closely, for every detail was preserved; the wisps of hair, the pale eyes, and the thin, veiny limbs. “Don’t…touch them.” Hadvar uttered. “It’s bad enough that we’re here, there’s no need for us to desecrate their bodies.”

    We pressed on, encountering lone draugr occasionally. These we dispatched easily – a couple of coordinated strikes and feints would fell them as quickly as they rose. However, when we began searching the tomb – for our informant’s intelligence was not precise, it only stated that the crown was in the tomb past the wall the claw was used on – the draugr rose as one. We lost a few legionaries in the initial panic, but after that the men remembered their training, and formed a circle. From there we repelled the draugr attacks, slicing them apart with lethal precision until the dead decided to remain dead. “Bring the bodies of the slain with us,” I ordered, “no one deserves to rot in here.”

    From then on we took no chances. About fifteen of us were left, and we needed every legionnaire for this task.

    We set the tomb ablaze.

    Legate Rikke gave orders for every skeleton, crypt, and whatever that looked capable of housing a dead body to be set aflame. Every nook and cranny was aflame, turning the crypt into a raging inferno. “Fear not,” the Legate said, “the Jagged Crown will not burn. It is made of precious metals and dragon's teeth, which only combust at temperatures far higher than what our torches can conjure.”

    It was at this point I asked Hadvar if he was comfortable with this order. “The Legate’s doing what’s necessary to save lives. But are you alright with your fellow Nords bodies being burnt like this?”

    “To be honest, I never saw them as my fellow Nords.” Hadvar replied, his face grim. “The stories say that these men were actually buried alive willingly for one cult or another. Those cultists used magic to keep them alive for their needs…even till now. It’s best that we’re rid of them.”

    After the flames died down, we searched from top to bottom, dragging out whatever remained from the charred ashes for further inspection. This process took so long that Legate Rikke deigned it necessary to send a messenger back to the tomb entrance to inform the archers and the wounded that we were still here and that the entrance would still require guarding.

    We searched meticulously in every chamber that we came across. But it seemed that the eight, or the nine (whichever, I didn’t care) were laughing at us all along. When we finally arrived at the end of the tomb, exhausted and down to thirteen combat ready legionaries including myself and the Legate, we realized that the Jagged Crown was right there sitting on some draugr’s head.




    “Gods preserve us.” Alwyn muttered. “It’s a high ranking draugr.”

    “Weapons.” Legate Rikke commanded, and many of the men held their swords at the ready. “How do you know what type of draugr it is?”

    Alwyn squinted at the figure. “The markings on its armour. It’s reserved for nobles and people of great stature during the times of the ancient Nords.”

    “What? I’ve never heard of such things.” Hadvar remarked, and the other Nords murmured in agreement. “Where did you come by this knowledge?”

    “I read a lot of books and after action reports in my free time.” Alwyn replied, his face dead serious. “Especially those relating to Skyrim and its lore. I believe that if the Empire wishes to truly govern this province, its people should learn more about it.”

    “Well said.” Legate Rikke nodded. “Well said indeed. Let’s get the crown and get out of here.”

    But not one of us took a single step forwards, for it was as if the draugr itself had heard Legate Rikke’s words. Hundreds of years of bones and dust arose in a great rage, as well as what I could only assume to be two of its lieutenants rising along with it.


    Some of the men were slack jawed with horror, and stood rooted to the ground in fear. “Spread out and flank them!” Legate Rikke yelled, but her voice was instantly drowned out by a great shout from the draugr. I had my shield raised, but somehow an invisible force lifted me off my feet and hurled me against the walls.

    Dazed, I struggled to breathe, hearing the dim din of combat ring all around me. My vision was blurry, yet I could see the draugr with the crown swinging its two handed sword with inhuman strength, knocking aside all the legionaries who dared approach it. Someone clattered to the ground beside me, his neck twisted and his eyes lifeless. Another deep guttural roar from the draugr and I saw Legate Rikke being thrown into the air as easily as a child discarding an unwanted sweetroll.


    “The torches!” I yelled to no one in particular, clambering to my feet. “Burn it!”

    Even as those words left my mouth I contemplated using magic there and then, but decided to do so only if absolutely necessary. Alwyn threw a lit torch at the draugr’s face, but it simply deflected the torch and howled with rage. Stumbling to its left, I decapitated one of its subordinate draugr, which was too busy thrusting its axe at another legionnaire to notice me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hadvar and another legionnaire overpower the other draugr lieutenant, which meant that only the sword-wielding behemoth stood in the way of retrieving the crown.

    Another legionnaire decided to try his luck, but the torch he threw at the remaining draugr was swiped aside with ease. Then, someone shoulder charged the draugr, and the both of them went flying to the ground. Immediately I seized the opportunity to stick my sword down the throat, or what remained of it, of the draugr. A wretched screech was ululated from its mouth, and then it was silent.



    Panting and gasping, I proffered my hand to the legionnaire who had so bravely rushed the draugr, but to my dismay, I then noticed the draugr’s sword protruding from the man’s back, and the pool of blood that had formed beneath the man’s body. Molag's Balls...

    “Bloody draugr.” Legate Rikke cursed, still clutching her head and wincing in pain. “Too many good men died for this prize today.” She reached down and plucked the Jagged Crown from the ground where it had fallen. “Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of my ancestor’s burial tombs for a lifetime.”

    We carried the bodies of the fallen with us – all six of them. Fewer than ten of us now remained combat ready, and there was a real risk of Stormcloak reprisals. “This is a dicey situation.” Legate Rikke commented when we finally emerged from the tomb with the archers and the wounded. The legionaries who had gathered around her all wore worried expressions on their faces. “I didn’t see Galmar Stone Fist in there with the Stormcloaks. An operation of this magnitude and importance almost guarantees his presence. I’ll bet there are more Stormcloaks in the vicinity, waiting to ambush us.”



    I concurred. “Ma’am, we should evacuate from this area at once. Head back to Whiterun. From there we can travel in relative safety to Solitude.”

    “If the Stormcloaks are lying about, that’s what they’ll expect us to do.” Legate Rikke countered. “I will gather the wounded and head for Whiterun with the rest of the detachment. You take Hadvar and Alwyn and the crown, and ride straight for Solitude.”

    Any further protest I was about to make would have been pointless – I could see from the determination in her eyes that her mind had already been made up. “Gared.” She clapped me on the shoulder. “I know you care for these men, but if we all get bogged down by a Stormcloak ambush this entire mission would have been for naught, and we would have invalidated the deaths of all our fallen legionaries.”

    I swore under my breath. She was right. I saluted solemnly as she handed the crown over to me. This thing is heavier than I thought it would be. “I’ll look for you in Solitude.” I said, to which the Legate laughed. “This is war, Gared. Nothing is certain, though I will certainly try my best to survive. Now be off with you. Legionnaires! We make for Whiterun and a warm fire!”

    I waved Hadvar and Alwyn over and briefed them about our objective. When they left to saddle their horses, I quickly examined the Jagged Crown.

    At first glance, there was nothing remarkable about it other than its design – it was made from the teeth and bones of dragons, which was what gave it its incombustible properties. But upon closer inspection, I could barely make out a few letters engraved into the inside of the crown.

    L Z T U M F

    Mystified, I gave the crown another once over, then another, but these were the only markings on it. My dread growing, I started to wonder if I’d just failed my father and my ancestors. Centuries of work.

    What in the blazes is this gibberish?






    Author's Note

    Hey! I do hope you enjoy this update! Let me know if it is too long to read, currently it stands at around 2.7k words, but this should be the longest chapter for a long long time. The rest are all under 2.5k. The main reason this chapter is longer-ish is because I know a lot of people have played through the civil war questline, and I don't want to dwell too long on the Korvanjund quest, so I decided not to split it into two chapters.

    Also, the character list will only show the known characters from the previous chapter, for example if Legate Rikke gets promoted in this chapter, it will only be reflected in the next chapter's character list. And it's obviously not exhaustive

    I have also recently converted all photos from this AAR from Imgur Hosting to TWC hosting. I'm not going to do that for God's Justice because it's too tiring and there are over a hundred photos.

    No quest photos for you to guess this week, but if you predicted Korvanjund for this chapter, good on you!
    Last edited by Swaeft; January 18, 2019 at 03:03 AM. Reason: Thanks Alwyn :)

  15. #15
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    I did enjoy this update and must say my first impression looking at the length was, wow this is a long update better take my time, but then I started reading and it went by like it was nothing, which singals to me that it is a well written chapter. So I would say, no it's not too long but I wouldn't make it any longer in my personal preference. I'm of course someone who likes to read a chapter completely and not in parts, I don't know exactly why just that I do. *shrug* Perhaps because my brain is chaotic and I want to reply my thoughts as soon as possible, lest I forget it.

    Anyway great pictures, as always. I particularly like the one where Rikke is flying through the air like a rag doll.

    Lovely addition with Alwyn, the knowledgable legionaire.

  16. #16
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    ... and that's another reason for reading books and AARs. You never know when the knowledge might be handy!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    It'sprobably just me, but the phrase "slashing his face open with my own" caused a moment of slight confusion. In context, I know exactly what you mean - Gared slashed with his own sword - so it's not really a problem. It would be absurd to think that Gared slashed someone else's face with his own face, and yet a bit of my mind wanted to read the phrase that way, which distracted me. It's a very small thing and it's probably just my tired mind getting confused!


    I'm enjoying this! Gared seems to be skilled with both weapons and magic. I like the idea of him being able to use powerful magic, but fearing the consequences in this society - I imagine this could lead to some challenging moral dilemmas later on. Maybe he'll face a desperate situation where he could overcome a problem using magic, but this would be difficult or impossible to hide.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I did enjoy this update and must say my first impression looking at the length was, wow this is a long update better take my time, but then I started reading and it went by like it was nothing, which singals to me that it is a well written chapter. So I would say, no it's not too long but I wouldn't make it any longer in my personal preference. I'm of course someone who likes to read a chapter completely and not in parts, I don't know exactly why just that I do. *shrug* Perhaps because my brain is chaotic and I want to reply my thoughts as soon as possible, lest I forget it.

    Anyway great pictures, as always. I particularly like the one where Rikke is flying through the air like a rag doll.

    Lovely addition with Alwyn, the knowledgable legionaire.
    Agreed, the word count will not increase any further. I too like to read a chapter completely and not in parts, something about 'completing' this segment of the story. Lol the one where Rikke was flying, I heard the shout and the moment I saw her fly I paused the game by opening the console and thought to myself: Damn. I need to add that to the story.

    Thank you, it's good to have knowledgeable people around. Oh look, who's that there?


    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    ... and that's another reason for reading books and AARs. You never know when the knowledge might be handy!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    It'sprobably just me, but the phrase "slashing his face open with my own" caused a moment of slight confusion. In context, I know exactly what you mean - Gared slashed with his own sword - so it's not really a problem. It would be absurd to think that Gared slashed someone else's face with his own face, and yet a bit of my mind wanted to read the phrase that way, which distracted me. It's a very small thing and it's probably just my tired mind getting confused!


    I'm enjoying this! Gared seems to be skilled with both weapons and magic. I like the idea of him being able to use powerful magic, but fearing the consequences in this society - I imagine this could lead to some challenging moral dilemmas later on. Maybe he'll face a desperate situation where he could overcome a problem using magic, but this would be difficult or impossible to hide.
    Well, good sir, I would like to point out that the knowledge didn't really come in handy here...

    I agree, I can see why that phrase could cause confusion. I'll edit it a teeny bit. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Alwyn, you better not be joining Turkafinwe in sending spies after me. First in my campaigns, now for my AAR script as well? I really need some defense against this subterfuge...

    Edit: Oh I just started a little BGM experiment, details are in the OP. Totally optional! Also the next chapter will be here in a day or two.
    Last edited by Swaeft; January 16, 2019 at 01:31 AM. Reason: Updated

  18. #18

    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    Character List


    Gared Macer - An Adept pledged to the Mages' Hall, currently on a quest to discover the location of the lost Wellspring. Current ranks and titles held - Adept in the Mages' Hall, Praefect in the Imperial Legion, Rogue in the Thieves' Guild, Warrior in The Companions

    Legate Rikke - Co-commander (De Facto Leader) of Praefect Macer's Detachment, General Tullius' Chief Advisor

    Legionnaire Alwyn - Friend of Gared Macer, Legionnaire in Praefect Macer's Detachment

    Legionnaire Hadvar - Friend of Gared Macer, Legionnaire in Praefect Macer's Detachment




    Chapter III: Dawn
    Gared Macer

    Tirdas | 18th of Last Seed | West of Dawnstar, The Pale


    “Come on now, we’re almost out of the Pale.”

    It was nearly dawn. About an hour ago we passed, or more accurately, skirted south of the Stormcloak-aligned town of Dawnstar. That was the most dangerous part of our route, during which we were all on edge, looking left and right, expecting to be set upon by Stormcloak soldiers hiding in the trees. As such, we had travelled at a canter – a pace faster than a trot, but slower than a gallop, so as not to tire our horses out. I was particularly worried that the lantern I carried would paint me as a huge target to anyone looking to waylay us, but it was necessary to see whether there were any traps on the ground in the tenebrous pre-dawn gloom.


    But no iron arrows soared through the air, heading for our necks. No Stormcloak warriors rushed out of the undergrowth, bellowing war cries and screaming for blood. There was only the constant thump of our horses’ footsteps and the ceaseless whoosh of the biting cold wind.

    In this northern part of Skyrim, the weather was poor, but not as deplorable as the eastern holds of Winterhold or Eastmarch, where the Sun’s rays rarely touched the ground, and you couldn’t see twenty feet in front of you. There weren’t perpetual blizzards and snowstorms clouding your vision and shrouding your world in the Pale, but the freezing cold and the harsh whip of the wind was enough to make you shiver non-stop.

    The giant trees that had been around for ages fought both gravity and the gradual piling up of snow on their leaves. Occasionally, some of the leaves could no longer bear the weight of the snow that had gathered on top, and with a mighty crack, the entire branch would collapse into the ground, startling the three of us.

    Just like the civil war. I mused. Once the burden of this conflict becomes too heavy to bear, Skyrim will pay the price. I just hope I can find the Wellspring before that.

    “We’re making good time.” Alwyn observed. “Another half hour and we should reach the relative safety of Hjaalmarch.”

    “Indeed.” Hadvar remarked, riding up alongside Alwyn and patting his horse gently. “I do hope the Legate has made it to Whiterun by now.”

    “As much as I would wish that to be true, it’s very unlikely.” I heard Alwyn reply. “It would be a terribly perilous affair if they meet any Stormcloaks on the way. They’re bogged down by the wounded and dead they are transporting, peace to the fallen.”

    “Peace to the fallen.” Hadvar echoed, then groaned. “Come on, Alwyn. Why do you always have to be so…tactical, so calculating? We made it past Dawnstar already, lighten up! Just because we didn’t –”

    “If we didn’t meet any Stormcloaks, it’s highly likely that they did.” Alwyn snapped back. “Did you think of that?”

    Hadvar fell silent.

    Despite the disconcerting truth of Alwyn’s words, I couldn’t help but smile wryly to myself. If Hadvar was the steel fist of our detachment, Alwyn was the brains. Even the Legate could not match his skill in devising battle plans. Many a battle had been won with few or no casualties thanks to Alwyn’s careful preparation and detailed assessment of pre battle tactics and manoeuvres. One of his most famous stratagems was called The Hammer – or as our detachment liked to name it, The Hammer and the whole Forge – always throw your full strength at the enemy in order to inflict maximum casualties.

    It was a simple but rather underused stratagem in this age of complex tactical maneuverers. We usually had fifteen archers in our detachment, but the other thirty infantrymen were taught the basics of stringing a bow as well, so that when we attacked from range, the Stormcloaks were not met by volleys of fifteen arrows, but volleys of forty five. Then when it was time for the melee, the archers would nock their bows and advance with the infantry, always taking a shot when the opportunity afforded it, be it an enemy stunned from a shield bash, or a combatant’s exposed flank. As a result, the enemy force would almost always be overwhelmed, and in the rare case that they weren’t, be severely battered and in retreat.

    Behind me, Alwyn spurred his chestnut mount forward, until he caught up with Hadvar's palomino destrier. “Hey, Hadvar. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I apologize for my misconduct, it was unbecoming of me.”


    “Don’t worry about it. You know me, fighting is all I’m good at.” Hadvar paused, and for a moment I thought he was done speaking, but clearly he was just deep in thought, because he continued, “you know Alwyn, you always told us you joined the Legion because you wanted to see the world. But there are safer ways to do that. You’re from a noble house, and a man with smarts like you shouldn’t be slogging it out here with the rest of us.”

    “What, just because I’m a highborn I should stay cozy in my family estate, drinking that day’s special brew and wasting time on inconsequential small talk?”

    Another pause, and then: “Well, if the alternative was to traipse around in a war torn land where half the people are trying to kill the other half, then yeah, sounds good to me!”

    The three of us exploded into laughter.
    I certainly didn’t see that coming. “Even the Praefect agrees!” Hadvar managed to point out in between his bouts of elation.

    I was the first to wrest back control of my chest and mouth from my fit of merriment. Alwyn was a close second, and Hadvar was still chortling to himself when Alwyn spoke up.

    “You know, for a man who always complains that he’s devoid of intellect, that was pretty impressive.”

    I resisted another bout of laughter, but it wasn’t easy. Hadvar cracked up a little, though, and Alwyn waited for his second laughing fit to subside before continuing.

    “A man can only know so much by reading and writing dusty tomes and old books. It is one thing to write about the great things in the world, and another to experience it. When I’m done exploring Skyrim, I hope to see Cyrodiil as well. That’s why I signed up for this particular detachment – we’re always deployed to different areas, and never stationed in one place for too long.”

    I slowed my mount’s pace and let Hadvar and Alwyn draw abreast of me. “You really are a wise man.” I remarked, nodding with respect to Alwyn. “Those were fine words you just said. I too hope to see Cyrodiil one day. Perhaps we could make the journey together.”

    “If this war ever ends, I’d be glad to.” Alwyn replied. “I didn’t join up just to see the world. The Stormcloaks need to be put in their place and I’m not going anywhere until their sorry excuse for a rebellion is put down.”
    “I’d drink to that. Except I don’t drink” Hadvar commented, then turned his attention to me. “What about you, sir? You never did say why you joined the Legion.”

    For a brief moment, I panicked. Somehow I thought that Hadvar was on to me, but after I realized the ridiculousness of that notion, I let out an uneasy laugh. I had paused long enough, however, to arouse their discomfort, and as I was about to throw a generic, patriotic imperial who loves his country excuse at them, Alwyn clapped me on the shoulder.

    “Are you alright, sir?”

    A little puzzled, I affirmed that I was, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for him. “Pardon me if I’m overstepping, Gared, but you seem a little distracted. I apologize if I’m wrong, because it’s hard to tell from behind that helm of yours, but you don’t seem your usual self.”

    Hadvar piped up in support of Alwyn. “He’s right, sir. You’ve been awfully quiet. You’ve barely said anything this entire journey, and it’s no fun going back and forth with Alwyn here when you’re not the astute one.”

    I scolded myself for not keeping up appearances, then politely dismissed their concerns, but deep down I knew they were speaking the truth. I was distracted. Since we left Korvanjund I’d been pondering to no end the meaning of the words in the Jagged Crown. I’d grown increasingly frustrated when I realized I was stymied – I couldn’t for the life of me shake the feeling that I had just hit a dead end. Apart from the crown, I had no other leads. But somehow I had to persevere. I had to continue. I couldn’t simply throw away generations and generations of my ancestors’ toils. I couldn’t let the Wellspring fall into our enemies hands.

    “Hey, that man there. Is he wearing the pale green of Morthal?”

    As I was about to squint in the general direction that Hadvar had indicated, I spotted a peculiarity amongst the snow. A minor thing, really, but an annoying blight upon my vision. Light blue snow. That’s weird, I’ve never – I squinted, trying to make out what it was, but with the snow being blown about by the wind and with only a small gap in my helmet for my eyes, it wasn’t easy. Is that block of snow…moving?

    The realization hit me too late.


    Like puppets with their strings cut, I watched in horror as Hadvar and Alwyn both tumbled off their horses, which had reared up in agony, arrows striking their bellies. Then, my survival instincts took over, and I deftly jumped off my own horse, Aeonbarr, and gave him a hard thwack on his rear, sending him galloping away into the forest, more twangs and whooshes sailing after him.

    “Idiot! You shot everyone except the leader?” A voice from the brush on my left scolded, but I didn’t care. I rushed to my Legionnaires’ side, fearing the worst, but thankfully they were still alive. An arrow protruded from the left side of Hadvar’s chestplate, not too far away from his sword’s scabbard, from which tiny drops of blood dripped out. Alwyn appeared to be better off, but he had apparently landed on his head and was clearly in no state to fight. Both were clutching their sides and had no strength to stand. But the most horrifying scene of all was both their horses in their final death throes, having bled tremendously from their arrow wounds.

    “Imperials!” The voice behind me shouted. “Hand over the crown, or die where you stand!”

    I didn’t carry a shield of my own, so I quickly grabbed Hadvar’s one off the ground and raised it in front of me, my heart pounding faster than Eorland’s hammer on the Skyforge. Behind me, the agonizing whinnying of the two dying horses ceased. Without turning my head, I assumed that they had just passed from this world. Was I next?


    As more Stormcloaks poured out from behind the trees, the ‘man’ that Hadvar was referring to earlier on stepped forth, a sword in one hand and a steel shield in the other. He was garbed in the heavy armour of a Stormcloak field commander – Hadvar could not have been more wrong. “I’m not going to ask again, Imperial.” The man barked from behind his shield. “The Jagged Crown, now.”

    I was starting to panic. I was outnumbered at least ten to one, and with Alwyn out cold and Hadvar lying on the ground moaning, I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that I could win this fight. I was a decent swordsman, but I wasn’t that good. My mind was failing me, and I was unable to think coherently, trepidation threatening to overwhelm me. I stood stock still, my eyes staring at the snow glistening on the giant greatswords the Stormcloaks were brandishing.

    “I – I don’t have it.” I yelled, gripping my sword tightly, desperately trying to think of a way out of this dire situation. To my horror, I realized I don’t have it on me was what I meant to say, and I wasn’t lying – the crown was in one of the pouches on Aeonbarr’s saddle.

    Maybe the commander didn’t hear me over the wind, or maybe he did but didn’t care. He bellowed something that sounded like “take it from his corpse”, and then the silence of the dawn was broken by frenzied war cries, as the Stormcloaks swung their longswords about and hefted their warhammers.


    As the Stormcloak soldiers surged forwards, their cloaks flapping in the wind, I was hit by a soaring burst of clarity. I couldn’t lose the crown, not at this critical juncture, and I didn’t want to lose Alwyn and Hadvar either.

    Sometimes in life, to go one step forwards, you need to take two steps back.

    I sheathed my sword, dropped the shield, and raised my arms.



    Author's Note

    In case you missed it, check the OP for a new note on the music symbols


    No quest photos for you to guess this week either. You can guess if Gared is going to surrender, though.

    Map of Gared's travels this chapter:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Last edited by Swaeft; January 18, 2019 at 02:10 AM. Reason: Horse color was off!

  19. #19
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: Fractured Dragon - A Skyrim AAR

    I'm really liking this AAR thusfar, you're building a very compelling story here for which I commend you. As always you have some amazing screenshots in here, I don't want to know how much time you put into taking them, editing and whatnot. My favourite this time is the Stormcloak archer ready to send an arrow down someone's throat.

    Concerning your idea of spicing up AAR's with music, I must say I think it's a wonderful idea and surely want to see it implemented here to see if it's a succes. Because unfortunately something being a good idea does not warrant it to work great in practice, but for that we shall have to wait till it's tried out. But like I said I think it's a great idea to get readers more immersed into the story. Oh and great to see a map with our hero's travels.

    Oh yeah I think Gared really is going to surrender, what else would he possibly be able to do? It's not like he has some special abilities or anything. <-- PS(yeah I'm bringing the PS back, so beware): I too love this emote a little bit too much.
    Last edited by Turkafinwë; January 17, 2019 at 06:09 PM. Reason: I don't remember

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