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A Symphony of Frost and Flame - Jon I (Part I)


Irstina

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Surprise! I'm still here okay?!

 

Contents

Prologue

Rianne I

Lilith I  

Faielle I

Jon I (You are here!)

 

Due to my long absence, I've decided to upload the first half of this next chapter right now, and I will be working on the next half right away (promise!) but it will probably take a little bit, just, you know, less.

 

If you are new to this, I do recommend starting from the beginning, however, this chapter can also be read without the others, as it deals with new characters in a different location. So if you want to just start here, you can! It will still make sense, this time!

 

The header for this entry gave me a lot of headaches cos I'm bad at this, so here is what it was actually supposed to look like originally:

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So now you know! Anyway on with the rest \o/

 

 

Spoiler

4E 202 22nd of Rain's Hand - WHITERUN HOLD, WHITERUN, HOUSE OF CLAN BATTLE-BORN

 

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Jon Battle-Born sighed. His eyes closed, for a moment, everything seemed so tranquil. As it used to be.

 

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As he opened his eyes, he looked himself over in the reflection of his window.

 

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Jon was not particularly fond of his new look, but had been left little choice.

 

Today, all the men of note in Whiterun would be in Dragonsreach for the bi-annual Council of the Lords. Although important families - such as his own - would have the Jarl's ear year long, these meetings at the beginning of winter and in the middle of spring served an important purpose: Landed men, big and small, would ostensibly have a word in the future of the hold.

 

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Jon sighed again as he adjusted his tunic. This spring gathering would be much more contentious than most. While the harsh winter had put a halt to hostilities across Skyrim, the thawing of the snows would see a return to open warfare - and Whiterun, at the center of everything, was still neutral. A position that pleased no one, and was unlikely to last.

 

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War was coming to Whiterun. Only one question remained: What banners would the city fly?

 

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A voice rang out through the hall.  

 

"Jon! Breakfast is ready, come on out now, dear!"

 

His mother's voice woke Jon from his contemplation.

 

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He made his way down to the dining hall, where the rest of his family was already seated.

 

 

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"Ah! The wayward son returns..." His father exclaimed, gesturing towards him with a cup of mead.

 

 

 

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Olfrid sized Jon up and down with his usual disapproving look, but nodded in the end.

 

 

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"Looking much better, brooding aside... now sit down, I won't have you looking starved at the council."

 

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Some may think of Olfrid's care as fatherly concern, but Jon knew better: He would not have one of his sons look starved, least people may think the Battle-Borns were poor. Poverty was evidently a fate worse than death.

 

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"Uncle! Will I be coming to Dragonsreach too?"  

 

Lars seemed excited. His father and grandfather had always filled his mind with tales of the legendary origins of House Battle-Born and the prominent place they had within the city. The latter was true, though Jon had some doubts about the former, every other family of means seemed to claim lineage to one mythical figure or another.

 

The Battle-Born and their Grey-Mane quarries both claimed they could trace their lineage to Ysgramor's five hundred - the original human colonists from Atmora, the first men in Tamriel. Jon was... doubtful.

 

 

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"Heh, maybe next year, lad."  

 

Jon patted Lars on the head. The young Battle-Born pouted at the answer.

 

 

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"I promise to tell you all about it, though. And maybe we can practice some more, hmm?"  

 

Lars' smile returned and he nodded his head. Despite everything happening all around him, he was quite a happy child. Olfrid eyed them disapprovingly from his chair. He was not as pleased.

 

 

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"He should be practicing the sword, not the lute. He's nearly a man grown. One family "MINSTREL" is quite enough, I would think..."

 

 

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Olfrid pronounced the word with about as much disdain as he could muster this early in the day. His fathers' disapproval was an old wound by now for Jon. In truth, his hopes for the Bards' College had already been dashed by the war. One day, perhaps.

 

And just like that, the dinner's mood was soured. Olfrid had a particular knack for this.

 

 

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"Help yourself, dear. You barely ate at breakfast."

 

His mother broke the awkward silence, gesturing towards the platter. She was more keen on actually seeing him fed, than on others -not- seeing him hungry.

 

 

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Olfrid's words roused the boy's father from his cup.

 

"Harald has been teaching him. He says he's doing well."

 

Idolaf did not smile. In fact, Jon could not quite remember the last time he saw him do so. Lars shivered at the name. The Captain of the Battle-Born House Guard was a rather grim man and of few words, but Jon could not contest his prowess as a warrior.

 

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"Harald is a good man and a true Nord, but the boy needs his father to teach him honor. Don't you forget that."  

 

Olfrid's statement sounded quite final, Idolaf could only nod.

 

 

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As the Battle-Born patriarch quieted down and focused on his cup again, the family continued to eat in silence.

 

 

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It was a fairly typical Battle-Born dinner.

 

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As they were finishing, Jon could feel his fathers' eyes on him, and raised to meet them.

 

 

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"Hmh. You at least look the part of a Battle-Born now. Divines will it, you may even actually start to play it." His father bellowed as he put his cup down again.

 

Olfrid had 'compelled' Jon to adopt a look more similar to his older brother. Gone were the long, flowing locks, replaced instead with a cut popular among Imperial Legion officers. Gone too were the colourful clothes popular in musicians' circles, he would now wear tight fitting, expensive tunics, meant to show off his status, or rather, House Battle-Born's status.

 

 

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He frowned. Alfhrid and Bergritte quietly started cleaning the table, before long, the three men were alone. Even Lars had skulked away to his room.

 

 

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"And I hope you haven't been seeing that Grey-Mane WHORE any more." Olfrid briefly rose from his chair, pointing at Jon accusingly.

 

 

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Jon clenched his fists. There were not many words that would hurt, but the ones about Olfina would work every time. He knew better than to answer, but it did not stop his father from noticing.

 

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Olfrid turned to Idolaf with a cruel grin.

 

"Haah! Look at him! He'd punch his own father square in the jaw! If only he would feel so strongly for the family name!"

 

 

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Olfrid's grin quickly vanished.

 

"Do you truly think Eorlund Grey-Mane's girl cares for you, boy? Bah! You probably do, foolish boy.." For a moment, Olfrid's tone was full of pity.

 

 

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It did not last. The Battle-Born patriarch then threw up his arms in dramatic fashion.

 

"Surrounded by fools! Everywhere I look, they stare back at me, with their long, loutish faces."

 

The old man put on a voice. Was this supposed to be him? Jon did not think he sounded that way.

 

"Olfrid!, they say, why are you so cruel, so demanding?! Why can't we just do whatever strikes our fancy? It's not like the old days anymore, Olfrid!"

 

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"I've led men into war, boy. Real men! Not what passes for today... many of them are still my men to this day, I love them like brothers! Do you know what my bannermen would do if they were to learn my own son was chasing Grey-Mane skirts?"

 

Olfrid was really getting into it. Jon had heard this story before. It was a family favorite.

 

 

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"They would slit my throat and hang me upside down - me and the whole lot of you right next to me. They would! Gods know it's not how I raised you, but they would."

 

Olfrid ran his thumb over his neck. Jon doubted this story, the lesser families that had pledged to the Battle-Borns were staunchly loyal, some of their patriarchs, as his father had so eloquently put it, had fought alongside him in the Great War, such bonds were not so easily broken.

 

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Idolaf raised his head and spoke up, least Olfrid seemed prepared to carry on in his tirade.

 

"We should prepare for Dragonsreach, father."

 

Jon's brother had always been better at 'managing' their father. The old man stopped, nodded his head a few times, and got up from his chair.

 

"Yes, yes, that we should.."

 

 

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"I will be going ahead to meet with Yngvar and the others, to discuss our plans."

 

Olfrid peered towards Jon, before shaking his head and looking to Idolaf again.

 

"Just make sure your brother doesn't get 'lost' on the way.."  

 

He sighed and walked away without expecting an answer.

 

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Idolaf looked to Jon. He seemed... apologetic.  

 

"I'll see you outside. Don't take too long, we have to drop by Adrianne's before Dragonsreach."

 

Jon knew his brother was involved in all manner of schemes to advance the Battle-Born cause as well as aid the Legion. Adrianne Avenicci's smithy was one such service, and it made her quite unpopular in some circles.

 

 

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Jon eyed Alfhrid curiously as she approached him. She looked him up and down silently for a few moments, then tilted her head and shrugged one shoulder.  

 

" ... It's not so bad. You look very... martial."

 

Jon smiled. His sister had always been diplomatic.

 

 

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"Hah. I look like a less gloomy version of Idolaf. I'm afraid you can't spin this one into a positive.."  

 

Alfhrid tilted her head to the other side, she thought on his words for a few moments.

 

 

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"Sooo... a better version of our sweet brother, then?"

 

She always did have a way with words and would wield them as sharply as any sword. It was not a fitting trait for a Lady of House Battle-Born, father would say. A number of suitors had already been dissuaded by her wit. 'Big mouth, unbecoming of a proper wife", he could hear him even now.

 

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"Some would say I already filled that role before the haircut and coat."

 

Jon adjusted his collar again as he reached for his sword. It was never quite comfortable, he wondered if this was intentional - Jon had always been told that the clothes don't make the man, but this was not true.

 

 

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He closed his eyes. The outfit was tight, stifling. It set Jon on edge, made him feel more aggressive, less reasonable, more willing to fight, more like... more like his father.

 

 

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Jon thought his father was many things, but a fool was not one of them. If he could make him look the part, then he would play it, almost unwittingly, his near outburst at the dinner table was proof of that, Olfrid was right. He did want to punch someone. Anyone. And he hated that.

 

His sisters' voice roused him from his thoughts.

 

 

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"Ouh, speaking of, I should warn Olfina if I see her, lest she may mistake you for Idolaf and then you'd find yourself with a dagger 'tween the ribs next time you give her a hug."  

 

"She'll be terrified. I'm sure." He grinned. Despite the importance of today's meeting, she was all he could really think about. His new look would certainly be met with some disapproval.

 

"Shall we?" Jon walked towards the door. It would be best not to keep his brother waiting too long.

 

 

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It was a surprisingly sunny day outside, summer had truly come early - such as it was here in the plains. Jon had always enjoyed this time of year, but now it only brought new worries.  

 

"Hmh. She's tougher than that. I have to go attend to the farm though, Jon. Don't have too much fun in Dragonsreach!"

 

 

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"I'll do my best to restrain my excitement."

 

Jon dreaded the proceedings. Last years' winter gathering was a celebration more than anything else, considering the Dragon Crisis had just ended, the still on-going civil war seemed like a distant concern.

 

Not so this year. There was nothing else to fight but each other, Jon thought. He wondered what was to happen if the Jarl would declare for one side or the other. Would there be violence? A riot? Despite appearances, the city was on a knifes' edge. Jon was unsure what to make of Baalgruuf as a leader, but he could appreciate the tough position he was in.

 

As his sister left, his eyes wondered to his brother and to Harald - Captain of the Battle-Born Household Guard and his fathers' right hand.

 

 

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Harald was a mountain of a man, in the service of House Battle-Born for well over a decade. Rather gruff and of few words, Jon never quite knew what to make of him. His loyalty, however, could not be questioned.

 

 

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And neither could his skill in battle. Harald had personally trained Jon and Idolaf both. He was without a doubt the finest warrior outside of Jorrvaskr.

 

 

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"... and the men for today's Council? Are they ready?" Idolaf inquired.

 

"They are. Five dozen lads in total, spread through the city. Grey-Manes try anything, we break their bones. For good." Harald answered in his typically monotone, matter-of-fact tone.

 

Was the situation truly that dire? Jon shuddered at the thought as he approached them. To think that this time last year the city was still in the middle of celebrations following the dragons' defeat, and now, it could be hours away from being awash in blood. How could everything go so wrong?

 

"Very good. My brother and I will be paying Warmaidens a visit first - more trouble." Idolaf sighed. "You will be needed at Dragonsreach, with Lord Battle-Born."

 

 

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Harald turned and left without a word. He merely glared at Jon as he passed by. His face seemed to be permanently set in something between a frown and a menacing scowl, the same face he would show both friend and foe. Still, Jon was glad he was not the latter.

 

"Ah! There you are!" Idolaf exclaimed to his crestfallen brother. "We don't have much time to waste - I promised Adrianne we would stop by her shop, and then, it's off to Dragonsreach."

 

 

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Idolaf did not wait for a reply.

 

"Shall we be on our way?" His brother seemed far more energetic than he had been indoors. This was not unusual. The one thing that always seemed to bring Idolaf to life was taking care of family business. He relished the competition with the Grey-Manes and took great pride in the family name.

 

 

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As they quietly walked away from Battle-Born Manor, Idolaf spoke up. "Jon, listen.. despite his ways, father does care, I hope you haven't forgotten that. This war wounded him more deeply than he'd care to say, the Grey-Manes were our friends, after all.."

 

Jon remained silent, he was not quite so sure of his fathers intentions. "... If it were any other time... " Idolaf sighed. ".. well, we all wish things would've been different."

 

Was that regret in his brothers voice? That was surprising to Jon, never before did he seem open to reconciliation.

 

 

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Jon was not the only one on edge. The whole city was ill at ease, passer-bys more hurried, the Jarl's men more vigilant. All of Whiterun - no - all of Skyrim was holding its collective breath for Baalgruuf's decree.

 

Today would be the last chance for both sides to plead their case for the future of Whiterun Hold.

 

"We do, don't we?" Jon empathized. His brother was a widower. He never spoke of her, but it visibly weighed on him, every day. Compared to that, Jon's troubles seemed trivial, childish, even. It made Jon feel guilty for even dwelling on them as much as he did.

 

 

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The two made their way down into the Plains District, before them lay "Warmaiden's", Adrianne Avenicci's smithy and shop, and in front of it, the woman herself, visibly upset.

 

Adrianne was the daughter of Proventus Avenicci, steward to Jarl Baalgruuf himself. She had been providing swords and armor to Battle-Born men and their Imperial Legion contacts for over a year. Jon knew this had caused her no small amount of trouble before, but it was unusual for her to call for Idolaf himself.

 

 

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Adrianne crossed her arms and frowned as they approached.

 

"Well, I see you finally deemed fit to come down here. When did I ask for you? Two days ago? Perhaps that latest order isn't quite so urgent anymore?"

 

Adrianne had no qualms about expressing her displeasure - nor using her leverage as the only competent smith in the city who would work for them. It was not the kind of tone his brother was used to.

 

 

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"Bah! Calm yourself, woman! You ought to know better than anyone what day it is! We've been preparing for this for well ov -"

 

"Calm myself? Are you hearing your brother, Jon?" Adrianne interrupted him, then lowered her voice, almost to a whisper.

 

"How calm do you think Ulfberth would be if he was the one who found the words "TRAITOR" painted onto our door, and not I? This has to stop, Idolaf."

 

She was right, Jon thought. "Warmaiden's" had been receiving more and more threats for months now, but nothing quite as daring as this. As for Adrianne's husband... Jon was convinced that had Ulfberth 'War-Bear' seen the message, his wife's swords would no longer be decorating Battle-Born sheaths, but Grey-Mane entrails. It was the kind of incident that would hurt their standing with the Jarl.

 

"We can spare a few men, can't we, Idolaf?" Jon spoke up as his brother seethed at the news.

 

 

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"They did what?!" Idolaf's face contorted into a frown. This was clearly more serious than he expected.

 

"The gall of these people! Did you see who?! We ought to find them and string them up! Then they'll -" Idolaf caught his breath, then sighed. ".. No, of course. I'll have Harald send three lads, they'll watch the smithy, discreetly."

 

 

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"No, Idolaf. I've had enough "discreet" protection. They'll have to sit out front and let those thugs know you mean business, or we're done, it's too much of a risk for me. I won't have it any other way."

 

Adrianne's statement seemed quite final. Jon knew his brother could not refuse, her assistance was just too valuable, especially at this critical moment.

 

 

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"Fine, fine, as you say. They'll be there." Idolaf waved dismissively as they turned. He was not one to back down, but this was one concession he would have to make.

 

"Today, Idolaf. I mean it." She called out, frowning as the brothers walked away. Adrianne was not the first nor the last to be caught in the middle of this feud, Jon thought.

 

 

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As they made their way through the market, Jon could not help but notice how sparse it was.

 

Spring would always bring all the merchants and farmers around the Hold to the city - Rorikstead, Riverwood, the outlaying farms, everyone would sell their goods in Whiterun. This year, most of the farmers were stockpiling for themselves.

 

 

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"They grow bolder by the day.." Idolaf broke the silence. ".. I hope for all our sake you can see it."

 

His brother was not wrong, no matter how much Jon would wish to deny it. It wasn't -her- fault though, he'd want to say. Alas, it would fall on deaf ears.

 

 

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Having made their way through the Wind District, the two brothers began their ascent up to Dragonsreach Keep. The seat of the Jarl towered over the entire city, there was no point in Whiterun from which one could not see it.

 

Its symbolism was not lost on Jon. To speak to the Jarl, one would first have to climb well over one hundred rough and uneven steps, by the time any would-be petitioner reached Baalgruf's halls, they would be tired, weary - and all the more open to negotiation. The seat of Whiterun was highly coveted even in times of peace, and only a cunning man would hold onto it for long.

 

 

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The summit was, unsurprisingly, empty, the rest of the lords had already assembled inside. Their detour had made them late, Idolaf seemed irritated as he hurried towards the doors.

 

"I'll see you inside. Father won't like us being late."

 

 

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Jon Battle-Born stood in front of the ancient, imposing gates of Dragonsreach. He breathed in deeply, then sighed. The fate of thousands would be decided within these halls.

 

It would be a long day.

 

 

6 Comments


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Wow. This is extremely well written! ☺️

 

Not only that but your screens are beautiful and really well posed and set. There's a lot of reading, but I love to read so... Another plus. I love the climate your narrative has created within Whiterun.

 

I really enjoyed this and I'm adding you to my list of authors to catch up on. Keep it up! I'm really looking forward to the next part! ?

 

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I can only agree with what Lexi said, the sole fact the reader is kept being hooked during half of the entry over a family meal proves the quality of the writing ; both in terms of style, and content. And grammatically, to me it seemed flawless. Now, I think there must've been some custom poses creation here, as there were a lot of small gestures that I don't believe are in the game's animation. Combined to your usual excellent graphical quality, those undoubtedly increased the immersion. Same for the costumes, same for the revised faces, and for the convincing dialogues and characters interpretations (I like how Alfhrid, while having her interventions limited by social norms, is actually smarter than what her patriarchal environment supposes). And so we get fully immersed in that civil war Whiterune ambiance, awaiting for the crucial events to unfold. Excellent work ! :smiley:?

 

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Malicia : « I'm not upset about Jon's new look, but his new hair changes him quite a lot. million_dollar_baby.gif

 

               Anyway, he's not forced to fake being with that Olfina cow. Instead he can very go for a far prettier and more intelligent gal, and with no skin problems, you see ? :classic_sleep: »

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7 hours ago, LexiAJ82 said:

Wow. This is extremely well written! ☺️

 

Not only that but your screens are beautiful and really well posed and set. There's a lot of reading, but I love to read so... Another plus. I love the climate your narrative has created within Whiterun.

 

I really enjoyed this and I'm adding you to my list of authors to catch up on. Keep it up! I'm really looking forward to the next part! ?

 

Thanks! I always wonder how much people actually read all the stuff too, if you'll go back to the earlier chapters you'll see there's more and more text with each one, I was trying to keep it brief early on, but the word count just always seems to increase ?

 

Considering my usual output, I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to catch up, but I should be faster with the next part this time, what with being locked up inside and all >.>

 

5 hours ago, ther1pper said:

Its been a while, can't wait to see more.

It has! More Soon™!

 

2 hours ago, Tirloque said:

Now, I think there must've been some custom poses creation here, as there were a lot of small gestures that I don't believe are in the game's animation. Combined to your usual excellent graphical quality, those undoubtedly increased the immersion.

 

 

               Anyway, he's not forced to fake being with that Olfina cow. Instead he can very go for a far prettier and more intelligent gal, and with no skin problems, you see ? :classic_sleep: »

Thanks! There are no poses from other pose mods in this entry, or from Bethesda's animations (other than like 2-3 shots towards the end where they're walking, cos I couldn't be bothered to make ANOTHER walking pose nor did I want to reuse an old one), they were all custom made by me as I went along scene by scene. I haven't counted how many I made, but it's a lot \o/

 

And I think there's some confusion here: Jon isn't forced to be with Olfina, it's the contrary. This is actually from Bethesda's own storytelling, if you pay attention to their dialogue ingame, Jon and Olfina are together against their families wishes, since of course this Grey-Mane / Battle-Born feud is a plot point from the game itself, there aren't any quests or anything around it, just some lines of dialogue, but it's obviously a Romeo & Juliet reference, I'm just expanding on that. ?

 

2 hours ago, Agent Tex said:

AMAZING!

Well, I wouldn't go that far. It's not even finished :O

 

Thanks ?

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On 4/5/2020 at 2:12 PM, Irstina said:

Thanks! There are no poses from other pose mods in this entry, or from Bethesda's animations (other than like 2-3 shots towards the end where they're walking, cos I couldn't be bothered to make ANOTHER walking pose nor did I want to reuse an old one), they were all custom made by me as I went along scene by scene. I haven't counted how many I made, but it's a lot \o/

 

That must've taken tons of time. I'm always impressed by the authors who make the effort to create custom stuff just for their stories.

On 4/5/2020 at 2:12 PM, Irstina said:

And I think there's some confusion here: Jon isn't forced to be with Olfina, it's the contrary. This is actually from Bethesda's own storytelling, if you pay attention to their dialogue ingame, Jon and Olfina are together against their families wishes, since of course this Grey-Mane / Battle-Born feud is a plot point from the game itself, there aren't any quests or anything around it, just some lines of dialogue, but it's obviously a Romeo & Juliet reference, I'm just expanding on that. ?

Malicia : « I'm not confused at all, no ! I very know Jon is with that cow, but he still kissed me on the mouth, you see ? So he's gonna dump her very soon. :classic_sleep: »

 

 

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