Her eyes were blurry as she awoke. The steady clip clop of horse hooves rang through her head. She was in a cart wobbling slowly around. Her head pounded more and more as her eyes focused.
She stammered as she realized her hands were tied tightly with rope. She looked up across from her to a blond man who gave her an understanding smile.
"So you're finally awake."
His voice was mellow and soothing with such a head ache as hers. She looked around her and saw many guards walking with the horses. To her other side she saw a man who looked quite distressed and another who was gagged for whatever reason.
The blond in front of her perked up and so did the gagged man.
"You're from Windhelm little elf?"
The blond asked. It suddenly dawned on her, he was wearing Stormcloak armour. The Windhelm guard armour. The gagged man narrowed his eyes at her and turned away.
"So that is the Jarl then..."
She had never really seen him in person before.
"Why are we tied up?"
The blond man's face saddened.
"Sovngarde awaits I'm afraid."
She began to panic much like the third man in the carriage who had been carrying on about not belonging there. Neither did she!
"I AM from Windhelm...my family lives in the Grey Quarter....I was out of Skyrim to visit relatives...now I remember...I got stopped and when they saw you, they thought I was with you."
The blond man grimaced.
"I am sorry for getting you mixed up in this little elf...this war is unfortunate for your kind enough without this..."
Although his comment irked her a bit she didn't miss the sentiment.
Soon she heard voices of townspeople who came out to see what was happening. This was it. It was over. In such a rush, she would never even get to see her parents again. As they came to a halt they were instructed to get out of the carriage and line up for the chop. Suddenly thief bolted. He almost made it to the gate before a team of archers shot him down. Her lip quivered at the sight. It had been the first time she had seen someone killed in cold blood. Just as she had lost all hope a young good looking man called to her.
"Hold on, who are you?"
She swallowed hard. This might be her chance to get out of this.
"Mirah, Highblade sir..."
He looked down to the paper in his hands then turned to a stern looking woman who wore fancy armour.
"What do we do? She's not on the list."
The woman crossed her arms and looked spitefully at Mirah.
"Forget the list, she goes as well!"
The man sighed and looked to the young elf with sad eyes.
"I'm sorry...I will make sure your body is sent to your family..."
Mirah gasped. Her chest felt like is was in knots. This couldn't be it. This whole thing was a mistake. As her face showed all her fear and sadness tears formed in the corners of her black eyes. An Imperial soldier pushed her toward the block and she wound up between the blond and Ulfric. She turned to the blond who had been kind to her.
"Is there any way out of this?"
He shook his head and lifted his bound hands. He patted her shoulder with one while letting the other dangle.
"I don't think so...I fear we are all meeting Talos today..."
The tears sitting in the corners of her eyes fell.
"W-what's your name?"
He smiled softly and let his hands fall back to where they were.
"Ralof. Of Riverwood..."
She repeated in case he hadn't heard before. He nodded smiling before turning to the chopping block as one of the other captured Stormcloaks was pushed down on his knees. Mirah gasped as the executioners axe rose high in the air. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned away quickly before it dropped. The thunk radiated through the air and more tears fell from her eyes. She began to shake trying to hold back her sobbing. Ralof sighed feeling bad for the girl, he leaned forward letting her rest her head on his shoulder reassuringly. Or as reassuring as one can be in line for execution. She took it, she leaned on him and pressed her face to his armoured chest. Ulfric looked to the sobbing elf and couldn't help but feel pity for her. After all, she was an innocent, from his own city too. Just then General Tullius appeared. A great anger boiled up in him as there was absolutely nothing he could do. Mirah heard bits of Tullius's speech about putting down Ulfric, but at the moment she was to distraught to listen. All she heard was that Ulfric had supposedly killed the High King with his voice, whatever that meant. She heard Ralof's voice radiating through his armour.
"Damn Imperials...I never thought it would end like this. Humiliating..."
Mirah lifted her head and sniffled a few times as she looked to Ulfric. His eyes blazed and he growled deeply from under his gag. She had heard of the brewing war before, of course being a resident of Windhelm. However she never realised it was to this point, that real deaths were happening already. The last she heard before leaving for her journey was that Ulfric had left town on important business and that Jorleif his adviser was left in charge. That of course meant much harsher treatment of the residents of the Grey Quarter. The soldiers knew when they could get away with being bullies, and it was always when Ulfric was away. She was snapped out of her thoughts by the awful woman's harsh voice.
"Bring him over General Tullius! Let's dethrone the "king to be" once and for all!"
She looked to Tullius who shook his head.
"No, we save him for last."
The woman sighed then looked Mirah's way.
"Fine, the Bosmer then! This way girl!"
Mirah shuttered and pressed herself to Ralof. He sighed and looked down at her.
"Peace be with you friend...accept your fate and may we meet again in Sovngarde..."
She wouldn't move a guard had to come and pull her away to which she protested by yelping for help one last time. As she guard pulled her struggling body toward the block she caught sight of Ulfric. His eyes had softened just slightly and he sent her a look of pity that made her just all the more frightened. Suddenly there was a loud roar that echoed through the mountains. The ground shook slightly and everyone stopped and looked around.
"What was that?!"
Someone said while others came up with explanations. Mirah whipped her head around frantically looking for whatever caused the horrible noise until she caught sight of Ulfric again. He was staring at her again. He had a look of intent curiosity that made Mirah shake nervously. When the woman in charge determined it was nothing Mirah was shoved forward again and pushed down to the bloody block. She looked up to the sky to see her executioner rearing back...and then...
"WHAT IN OBLIVION IS THAT!?"
A man screamed right before she saw it. A huge flying...
A woman shrieked as it landed on the guard tower. Mirah took in a sharp breath as it opened it's mouth.
Mirah yelped as the dragon's hot breath exploded around her knocking her captors away from her. She was thrown to the side and dazed as she hit her head against the cobblestone ground. As her vision blurred the dragon's voice echoed in her head. Wind? So that wasn't even fire! Her mind boggled at what was going on.
She lazily spewed as she tried to gather herself. The dragon looked down at her suddenly. It's eyes burned and even in her dazed state she could tell something was off.
The dragon called as he flew off again roasting people and buildings as it went.
Fire was everywhere, it was everything she could do to keep awake. Suddenly a familiar voice broke through.
"Mirah! this way quick!"
She quickly, and wobbly picked herself up and ran to him. She tripped over a burning log half way as her bound hands messed with her balance, that and her pounding headache. Ralof rushed forward and scooped her up in his arms quickly running to the tower. Once they were inside he set her down and she leaned against the wall. Her breathing was ragged. Her face wore a look of terror and she was covered in sweat and ash. Ulfric stood on the other side of the door, and a few other men were laying around half dead.
"My lord...could the legends be true?"
Ralof asked looking to Ulfric briefly before looking back to the chaos outside.
"Legends don't burn down villages."
He said simply. Mirah looked up. His gag was gone and his voice rang through her whole body as if it were a tremor in the ground. She shivered. What in all Oblivion was going on? She shook her head to try and correct her mind. She needed to focus if she was going to survive this. Ralof put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, it must have been so obvious that she was completely inexperienced with this. Of course no one was experienced with dragons, but still. Suddenly the tower shook and parts of the roof crumbled. She heard the dragon very close, it must have landed on the roof.
The whole room heated up significantly. Fire? Inferno? She could hear the words again in her head. She concluded that she must be concussed. It was the only explanation.
The heat grew even more intense. and the tower shook viciously again as the dragon took off from the top of it. Ulfric took this chance.
"We have to get out of here quickly! Ralof take the girl and go, I will follow when I can."
"Go!! Up the stairs! NOW!"
His voice was commanding and rumbled through her again. It felt like the dragon was speaking and not a man. Her head spun but Ralof nodded and pulled her forward to the stairs.
"Come on now little elf, before we become this dragon's lunch."
Ralof's pet name for her was not exactly flattering, but she would complain later, right now she decided there were more pressing matters at hand. As she shook her head once more she pulled herself together and followed him up the stairs to a hole in the wall. She ran to the top and peeked out only to be met with the dragon's face. It stopped for a moment and stared at her. Ralof was speachless. It's scales were as black as ebony and its eyes seemed to pass through your very soul. It's loud gravely voice echoed through the room.
"I AM ALDUIN, RESURRECTER OF SOULS! RUN AWAY LITTLE DOVAHKIIN WHILE YOU CAN!"
Mirah backed up into Ralof before more fire poured into the room. Dragonborn?
As the dragon took flight again Ralof didn't waste any time.
"Quick! through the hole! Jump down through that roof, I'll follow when I can!"
Mirah looked shakily down, she could make it but she questioned the logic of running out there again. She looked back to Ralof.
"I can't make it on my own..."
Ralof shook his head.
"You can, you must focus little elf, think of nothing else but escaping here alive. Go now! Quickly!"
Mirah nodded hesitantly but swallowed her resolve and leaped out onto the wooden roof. She stumbled, her bound hands were becoming more and more of a hindrance. She caught her breath and looked around. She found a hole in the floor and jumped through it down to the ground. She peeked out from behind the remains of the burning building and saw the young man who tried to speak in her defense. Alduin was blowing fire at him and a few townspeople before taking flight yet again. She quickly ran to him not knowing what else to do. He turned to her and grabbed her arm pulling her to the side.
"Still alive prisoner? Come with me if you wish to stay that way."
He pulled her along the outer wall of the city dodging fire here and there. As they neared the other towers Alduin landed right above their heads on the wall. His voice echoed through the mountains intensely. Mirah shuttered as the ground rumbled through her. As he took off they moved again out into the open where she saw Ralof. Her face brightened instantly and she ran to him. The young imperial man shouted to them.
"Ralof you traitor! and you young elf, I'd hate to see someone so innocent become rabble like that!"
"Hadvar, to think we came from the same village. Come now Mirah, let's get out of here."
Mirah looked back to Hadvar.
"I'm sorry...but so far this 'rabble' has treated me better than anyone else today. Thank you for your help Hadvar."
She bowed her head and took off after Ralof.