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


Irstina

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I mean, okay. It's not as fast as I wanted, but it's faster than before.

 

Contents

Prologue

Rianne I

Lilith I  

Faielle I

Jon I Part I

Jon I Part II (You are here!)

 

May want to check out previous parts if you're new, otherwise you know how this goes!

 

Spoiler

 

As Jon followed his brother into the Great Hall of Dragonsreach, he could hear the flurry of footsteps and whispers ahead. They were all here. All the men of note in Whiterun Hold. The two brothers were late, the spring Council was about to begin and with it, perhaps an end to a fragile peace.

 

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As they made their way through, Jon spotted an unlikely pair on their way out. Livia, the Court Bard, squinted and smiled at them as they approached.

 

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"My Lords of Battle-Born. It is a pleasure to see you could make it in time for such an important debate. It is so wonderful that all the great warriors of Whiterun have gathered here today, to protect us all. Don't you think so, Farengar?"

 

The man beside her, Farengar 'Secret-Fire', was Jarl Baalgruuf's court wizard. Every Jarl in Skyrim would have such an advisor. As a student of history, Jon knew that more than once, such men and women had worked more for themselves than their liege. Farengar was eccentric even for a mage.

 

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Farengar merely nodded, his face partly hidden by the hood he insisted on wearing in public. Livia smiled pleasantly, trying to make the interaction less awkward. She was a bard of some renown from the Imperial City Bards' College. Even more prestigious than the local one in Solitude, the talents of their graduates were sought after by men of means across the entire Empire.

 

Jon found it curious that she would be in Skyrim of all places. As someone of her talent and beauty would likely have been desired by far more prestigious courts. Her association with Farengar seemed stranger still, the man was famous for being reclusive and interested in little but his books and spells.

 

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Nevertheless, Jon had been an avid admirer ever since her arrival last year, after Alduin's defeat. She performed the by now famous 'Tale of the Tongues' - a ballad honoring the Dragonborn's victory. It was the most beautiful rendition Jon had heard before or since. He could only dream of becoming half as good.

 

"And a pleasure to see you again as well, Lady Livia. A pity you will not be joining us this year. The halls of Dragonsreach will be all the poorer without your presence."

 

Jon could almost -feel- his brother roll his eyes. Had he gone too far? He did not think so, it was the truth! Besides, he would rather hear anything than another debate about the civil war. That had already been the subject of every dinner Jon had attended this year.

 

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"Hmmmh."

 

Livia smiled mischievously. He had not met her more than three or four times, but she would always look as if she knew more than one would expect of her. Every move, every twitch in her lips seemed deliberate. Sometimes Jon was unsure if he should admire her or fear her - but why would anyone fear a bard?

 

The lady would share a sidelong glance with Farengar, before turning around and heading towards the exit.

 

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"Enjoy the festivities, My Lords - such as they are. Remember that peace is a fragile thing, and you are its guardians."

 

While his brother had turned and walked away before she finished speaking, he watched her the entire way out.

 

"Come along now, Farengar. Our honorable Jarl wouldn't want us keeping our defenders from their duties."

 

 

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Catching up to his brother, Jon could survey the entirety of the Great Hall of Dragonsreach from atop the steps.

 

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To the right, Jon saw the Battle-Born assembly - and his father. Olfrid Battle-Born was, if nothing else, an eternally busy man. Whenever he would be out, wherever he would be, one petitioner or another would be right along with some suggestion or plea for him to hear out.

 

A vassal with a grievance, a peasant from one of his fiefs with a bandit problem - it would never end and it had been this way for as long as Jon had memories. Even as the proceedings were about to start, Olfrid was surrounded by people with problems. Problems they expected answers to. It was a small wonder the man was only as ill-tempered as he was.

 

Behind them, Harald watched quietly. Nothing ever seemed to escape the eyes of Olfrid's bodyguard. Even unarmed - as was the custom in the Jarl's halls - he was an intimidating figure. Anyone thinking to so much as raise their voice at Olfrid would best think twice.

 

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Behind them, on hastily assembled benches, sat the rest of the Battle-Born audience. Men of all stripes who had sworn fealty to House Battle-Born were in attendance: Aldermen, soldiers, the larger farmers - anyone who Jon's father deemed important enough for the honor was here.

 

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Jon was unfamiliar with most of these men. It was Idolaf that seemed to know everyone - his elder brother was the one who would always accompany his father on all his trips, taking care of family business.

 

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On the other side of the aisle, Jon could see what at first appeared to be a fairly similar group of men.

 

But these men were not similar. Not at all. They were the hated Grey-Manes. Traitorous, serpent-like men who stood at the root of all that was wrong in Whiterun Hold. Devilish creatures that barely rose above the Thalmor themselves. Men so deceitful that Mephala herself would blush. Or, at least, that's how his father would describe them.

 

Jon recognized Avulstein, the tall, silver-haired scion of House Greymane. The seated man, the balding one, was Rorik of Rorikstead fame, a name that would send Olfrid into a near-delirious diatribe about duty and honor, seeing as how Rorik's father was originally sworn to House Battle-Born.

 

Newly wealthy and somewhat haughty, Rorik staked everything on the Grey-Mane's success, and much to the Battle-Born's chagrin, it seemed to be paying off.

 

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And in the middle of it all, sat lazily upon the throne of Whiterun, stood Jarl Balgruuf - "The Greater". As disinterested in the proceedings as he had been the previous year, Jon and Baalgruuf definitely shared one thing today: They both wanted the whole affair to end as quickly as possible.

 

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Before Jon could even reach his seat, he heard the voice of the Steward - Proventus Avenicci - echo throughout the hall.

 

"My lords! The 998th Council of Whiterun has begun! On this day, the court shall hear all men of Whiterun - high or low - as is tradition."

 

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Proventus cleared his voice, before dramatically raising his hands again.

 

"To open today's affairs, it pleases The Court to invite The Honorable Lord Vignar Grey-Mane to speak, so that all may hear his piece."

 

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Old Vignar Grey-Mane was already making his way to the pulpit before the steward even spoke his name. As had become tradition in these meetings, the Great Houses would take turns in speaking first.

 

Olfrid had opened the previous Council with a long speech exulting the virtues of the Imperial Legion and the pivotal role they played in one of the final battles against Alduin's brood. The actual details of that encounter remain murky to this day, but such a trifling thing would never stand in the way of a good story.

 

Despite his advanced age, Lord Grey-Mane was a legend - a veteran of the Great War thirty years prior, before Jon was even born, and a hero of the Battle of the Red Ring.   

 

A raucous round of applause from the Grey-Mane side of the assembly followed Vignar every step of the way as he ponderously strode to the speakers' pulpit.

 

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Jon, as any other Nord child, had learned of the titanic struggle at the end of the war. It was held up as the high watermark of the modern Imperial Legion and a masterstroke by the late Titus Mede II and his generals - an entire Thalmor army, encircled and destroyed in the blazing ruins of the Imperial City, mere days before what the Elves expected would be a capitulation. Everything changed that day, it was the stuff of legends.

 

The tale had been told over and over again, whole volumes had been written by both military analysts and bards alike, and Jon felt like he had read them all. "The Day the Eagle Drowned" - one bard had titled his work, referencing the infamous Aldmeri symbol and the great lake surrounding the city. "Fire on the Rumare" - another author mused of the naval battles on the great lake. Or perhaps.. "Man's Final Gambit", as one analyst more gravely described it. Olfrid insisted that Jon read all about it.

 

Poetic licenses aside, the battle -did- play a pivotal role in shaping Jon's world as he knew it. If not for the Red Ring, the war would likely not have ended in an armistice, but an annexation.

 

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Jon's father had missed this battle on account of an injury suffered in a skirmish mere days before the clash properly began. Olfrid missing the attack was never spoken of out loud, but Jon felt his father had never forgiven himself for not participating in what was the greatest battle of his generation.

 

Humble as Vignar may have been about his role, Olfrid remained as envious as ever, even twenty-seven years later.

 

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Lord Grey-Mane solemnly touched the ceremonial swords' hilt upon reaching the podium. The twin blades allegedly belonged to Olaf One-Eye, Jarl of Whiterun, and later High King of Skyrim.

 

Olaf reigned during the First Era, a period of history so shrouded in myth and legend that Jon was unsure quite how real the man was, and even more skeptical about the swords. The swords -had- been in Dragonsreach since at least Jon's fathers' fathers' time as far as he could tell, but in the hands of a four-thousand-year-old dragon slayer? That seemed unlikely.

 

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Separating truth from legend could often be difficult in Skyrim. No more than a year had passed since the Dragon Crisis and the bards seemed to be in a race to out-do themselves with songs of the Dragonborn's prowess, with tales of ever more heroic and unlikely feats. Jon had seen the man once and - though impressive - he was definitely still just a man.

 

How would future generations see him? Perhaps in a thousand years, some Jarl would claim he owns the Dragonborn's' axe. At the rate the bards were going, even the man's left boot would be a relic.

 

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But as long as men -believed- the swords belonged to King Olaf... they did.

 

And what of Vignar's own legacy?

 

Vignar grasped the hilt firmly, his eyes closed, muttering something under his breath. It was tradition to take solace in the prowess of past heroes, especially in a moment of crisis.

 

Judging by the length of his pause and the furrow of his brow, Vignar seemed convinced that this was such a moment. Perhaps he saw himself as some kind of saviour, an old and wise warrior, fighting his last war, sacrificing what should be his peaceful twilight years to secure the future of his city. That would definitely be one for the bards.

 

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Though the Grey-Mane assembly may have been waiting with bated breath, the Battle-Born side of the aisle started to grow restless. Jon could hear the grumbles behind him, none of them louder than his father's:

 

"Hah! Look at him, hamming it up for the crowd. He spat on all of Whiterun the moment he sided with that fool in Windhelm, and now he fawns over that sword like he's some... bah! Piss on that!"

 

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Olfrid rose from his chair and shouted across the hall.

 

"Hey Vignar! Save it for Fralia! Stupid cow's the only one who'd buy any of your rubbish! Not that you lot have two coins to rub between you, ha!"

 

His father's low opinion seemed to extend to Vignar's wife, as well. This was unbecoming. Jon could see even Idolaf look away from their father uncomfortably. Olfrid was very pleased with himself.

 

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Vignar Grey-Mane ignored his erstwhile comrade's taunt. As he cleared his voice, the whispers, the murmurs - all ground to a halt. Even Olfrid settled down.

 

Lord Grey-Mane stared grimly into the fire separating his speaker's podium and the throne. 499 years had passed since this tradition was first established and many a time did the fate of Whiterun - or indeed the whole of Skyrim - turn on the words of the men speaking here.

 

Today, his words might be the ones shaping the future. As Grey-Mane cleared his voice, Jon could feel an almost palpable tension in the room.

 

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"MY LORDS!"

 

Lord Grey-Mane exclaimed, his arms spread open, as if offering his audience an embrace.

 

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"I have come here, on this blessed day, to ask you a question. A question all true Nords should know the answer to!"

 

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"Our country stands on the precipice! Our land suffers more today than it did in the shadow of the World Eater! HOW is this possible, I ask you?"

 

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"How can it be that the once-proud sons of Skyrim would be so unmanned that they would prostrate themselves before Elves? That they would shackle themselves to a moribund Cyrodil?!"

 

Lord Grey-Mane yelled at the ceiling as if the question was for the gods themselves. He was livid, his voice, sharp and pointed, quivered with rage.

 

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Jon could hear the wooden chair scraping the floor to his right, and then, his brother's voice:

 

"TRAITOR!"

 

Idolaf's shout echoed throughout the otherwise silent hall. It was all it took for the Battle-Born audience to rise to its feet, jeering and booing the speaker.

 

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For some, it was the first time they would hear Vignar speak so openly against the Empire, they could scarcely believe their ears.

 

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In the Grey-Mane line, Rorik sensed the mood of the hall shift - he sprung to his feet and started applauding. The rest of the crowd followed behind him, clapping and cheering, trying to drown their opponents out.

 

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"Enough! These are my halls, not some cheap mead den, damn it!"

 

The Jarl's voice rang out across the hall as he raised an open hand. It was enough to quiet both sides and allow Vignar to continue.

 

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"I will tell you how - Weakness. Weakness and fear!"

 

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"The fear of a dying empire!"

 

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"Such fear that many in these very halls spit in the face of their ancestors - they abandoned our faith and our ancient way of life - all in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe..."

 

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Vignar paused. Dragonsreach stood silent as the Halls of the Dead. It was obvious to Jon that the man had prepared and practiced his speech. Grey-Mane was as good an orator today as he had been a warrior in his prime. Jon's father, on the other hand, seemed to prefer practicing his mead drinking.

 

He had the audience - or his side, at least - in the palm of his hands.

 

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Vignar clenched his fists and shook them as he spoke again, filled with indignation.

 

"...the perennial foe would be so merciful as to grant them one more day, one more day of life - a life in shackles.."

 

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Grey-Mane briefly paused again, drawing his breath.

 

"My Lords, as a True Nord, I say to you - such a life is not a life worth living!"

 

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He stepped out from behind his podium, hands clasped as if in prayer, but despite his humble attitude, this was no mere plea - the implications of refusing his call were obvious.

 

"To this end, I call to our honourable Jarl, and to all true Nords - our great city stood by the sidelines for far too long. Jarl Balgruuf..."

 

Those who would not step forward were not only cravens hiding behind neutrality, but their very honor and status as true sons of Skyrim would be in question. Or, so Grey-Mane loyalists would think, at least.

 

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Balgruuf seemed most displeased. He did not meet VIgnar's gaze.

 

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"Put an end to our shameful neutrality. Do not wait for the foe to reach our doorstep... "

 

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"Honour our ancestors - stand proud, stand with Windhelm!"

 

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As the Grey-Mane crowd burst into raucous applause, two of Vignar's supporters unfurled the Windhelm banner to even more cheers. This was a bold move to say the least, and serving little more than to inflame sentiments on the other side.

 

Jon felt Rorik's hand in this - the man grinned smugly across the hall - this was surely one of his stunts.

 

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The Battle-Born line was in shock, their gasps drowned out by the standing ovation Vignar received as he returned to his seat. Grey-Mane's loyalties were well known, but never before had there been an open call for rebellion in Dragonsreach.  

 

"Unacceptable!" Idolaf raised to his feet, shouting. "You speak of tradition?! We used to behead traitors - today they speak in Dragonsreach!"

 

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The rest of the crowd joined him in voicing their concerns.

 

"Grey-Mane seeks to lead us astray! What did Ulfric promise you, traitor?! Did he promise you the city?!"

 

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"The Empire is the bulwark that guards our realm from the Mer! Grey-Mane's lust for power would tear it all down!"

 

"Booo!", the throng of men behind him shouted in agreement. The Battle-Born loyalists were eager to show their disapproval, especially with Olfrid being within earshot.

 

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Jarl Balgruuf rose to his feet. He was positively fuming.

 

"I said.. ENOUGH! Get that damn flag out of my hall!" He pointed towards the Grey-Mane assembly, frowning.

 

"The nerve of you men, bringing Ulfric's banner into my home... and to think ANY of you know what's best for Whiterun.."

 

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He paused, then looked towards Jon's father.

 

"BATTLE-BORN! Come say your piece, then I'm done with the lot of you - if you're not all out within the hour I swear bolts will fly from the rafters!"

 

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Jarl Balgruuf had lost his nerve. Jon could appreciate his position. The quarreling families made him look weak. More and more the people of Whiterun would seek either Vignar or Olfrid's guidance - depending on their stance in the Civil War - rather than the leadership of their great Jarl.

 

In the ever more polarized city, Balgruuf's neutral stance was seen as a weakness, both men were slowly but surely edging him out of leadership - when the two families would clash, Balgruuf would be seen as feckless and indecisive, a figurehead at best. It clearly weighed on the man.

 

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His threat - though unlikely - was made all the more poignant by the Palace Guard stepping forward. They had been watching from above this whole time. It was more than enough to make everyone quiet down.

 

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As Olfrid began his walk to the speaker's lectern, the cheers were deafening, the men pushing each other to out-do Vignar Grey-Mane's own entrance.

 

Jon and his brother watched in silence. Jon did not hate his father, despite their constant clashes and his chronically poor disposition. He often wondered if he was a bad son, if his father was right, and if there would ever be a time of lasting peace within his lifetime.

 

So far, everything seemed to point towards Olfrid being right, it had brought Jon no shortage of sleepless nights.

 

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"Here's to the one true defender of Whiterun - Lord Olfrid Battle-Born!" One man shouted among the applause, no doubt confirming the Jarl's fears.

 

There were a lot of things Jon could fault his father with, but cultivating the strength of their family was definitely not one of them. The Battle-Born may have been prominent for generations, but it was not until Olfrid that half the hold looked to them first and to Dragonsreach second. The same could be said of Vignar - both were ambitious men and the Civil War brought them more influence than their families had seen in generations.

 

Balgruuf, on the other hand, despite his obviously high opinion of himself, never struck Jon as particularly ambitious. Ironically, the man would have likely made for a fine ruler in peacetime, but such times seemed elusive in the last few decades.

 

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Olfrid Battle-Born leaned into the lectern. His eyes shifted around the hall, Vignar's speech having left him in what looked like an even more foul mood than usual.

 

"My lords..." Lord Battle-Born wrinkled his nose as he looked in Grey-Mane's direction.

 

"I wish to start by reminding everyone, that House Battle-Born does not recognize separatists as their equals. Thus, I have very little to say to such... men."

 

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The Battle-Borns had booed VIgnar when he spoke. The Grey-Manes, on the other hand, seemed to take none of this seriously.  

 

"Oh aye! Battle-Borns wouldn't know a true man if he punched them in the face!", one man snorted to another.

 

"Too true! That's why them red-cloaks wear those little skirts!"

 

The crowd roared with laughter, pointing at Olfrid and patting each other on the back.

 

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Olfrid was boiling over with indignation, the taunts were rattling him, and he was never a great speaker to begin with.

 

"I shall keep this brief, as our esteemed Jarl asked. My Lords - the fact that we have not fallen prey to Ulfric Stormcloak's honeyed words.. should be seen as a sign of WISDOM, not shame!"

 

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Lord Battle-Born crossed his arms defensively.

 

"Let us not forget where Ulfric has led others! Let us not forget, of the day Markarth was drowned in blood!"

 

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"You dare pin Markarth on Ulfric, when it was the cowardly Hrolfdir that slaughtered his own people to appease the Elves?! You don't have enough gold to rewrite history, Battle-Born!"

 

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Jon shifted in his chair. The so-called 'Markarth Incident' had taken place 26 years ago, not long before his birth. It remained unclear to the day who was responsible for the massacre of the native Breton population, after their revolution had failed.

 

Ulfric Stormcloak was present and likely had a role to play, but the man Avulstein mentioned - Jarl Hrolfdir - was still nominally the one in charge. Most likely, everyone's hands were covered in their own share of blood.

 

Markarth was an Imperial aligned city, and a troubled one, at that. Less than a year ago the assassination of a Thalmor Commander had led to another purge and to the city almost falling to the Stormcloaks as a result. That would have likely been the end of the Civil War right then. Perhaps it would have been better that way, but Jon would keep such thoughts to himself.

 

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Jon's father ignored the shouts, he grabbed both sides of the speaker's lectern tightly. His shivering hands were noticeable even from Jon's seat. Jon had not seen him prepare or practice for this moment, and it showed.

 

"I congratulate our Jarl on his wise and patient rule, and hope that we will continue to conserve our strength, until a time when it can best be deployed to serve Skyrim, and the Empire - our Empire - that which guards us all."

 

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"Jarl Balgruuf - when that time comes, when we will be called to defend our Empire in the field, as our forefathers have so many countless times, know that House Battle-Born and all other true sons of Skyrim will stand with you. Thank you."

 

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Lord Battle-Born stepped from behind the lectern and bowed towards the throne in the midst of applause.

 

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Jarl Balgruuf stood up, visibly angered by the way today's events had been going. Traditionally, the Jarl would speak after the heads of the Great Houses, but he seemed in no mood to do so.

 

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Balgruuf began to walk away, much to the displeasure of the crowd and the surprise of his Steward.

 

"My lords! As Jarl Balgruuf's representative, I will continue to oversee any... lesser... petitions you wish to bring before the throne. But it would please The Court if this particular session were to be cut short. To.. give his grace time to ponder on all of your words.."

 

Proventus Avenicci was a graduate from one of the Imperial City's finest schools of diplomacy. Jon was not impressed - and by the looks of it neither was anyone else, as much of the crowd began to slowly disperse.

 

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A few petitioners would walk up to the lectern, but in truth, the 998th Council of Whiterun was over, the shortest Jon had ever seen. Another troubling sign of the times.

 

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Not everyone left Dragonsreach in a sour mood, though.

 

Jon watched as his father walked away, smugly grinning as one vassal after another would rush to congratulate him on his powerful speech, and his explicit dismissal of the separatist traitors. They would push themselves out of the way, shouting over each other, all to make sure Lord Olfrid would hear them. He loved it.

 

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"Come on, Jon. There's nothing left for us here."

 

Idolaf was a lot less impressed. Although his brother was second only to his father in his hatred for the Grey-Mane foe, he evidently shared Jon's feelings about today's proceedings.

 

VIgnar had been the better speaker. But did it matter? The city may have been neutral, but none of its citizens were, at least none but the Jarl. The two leaders may as well had been speaking privately to their supporters. The divide between them seemed wider than ever and growing still.

 

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Outside, Jon and Idolaf walked past Avulstein, who had lagged behind his group.

 

"Heh. Watch out, Asgeir, here comes the Empire's finest."

 

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"Watch your back, Grey-Mane. The city's been getting dangerous at night."

 

Idolaf growled as they walked by. Jon had been too young to truly befriend Avulstein, but just as their fathers, Idolaf and Avulstein had been friends and comrades. That fact had made the split all the more bitter. For Idolaf, the perceived betrayal was personal.

 

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"Oh aye! You should too Idolaf! Watch out for the battlements especially! Red cloaks been tripping and falling over them!"

 

Avulstein shouted from the top of the stairs. The veiled threat unsettled Jon. Everyone knew what he was referring to. Just a few months ago, an Imperial man had been stabbed to death, his body tossed into the gutter beneath the city walls. His wife and young daughter were also killed - it was a heinous murder, worse than Whiterun had seen in many years. The Grey-Manes were suspected, but no evidence was found. Jon still doubted it was them, but, nowadays.. who knows?

 

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At the bottom of the stairs, overlooking the still-standing statue of Talos, Idolaf turned to his brother.

 

"Listen, Jon, I have to meet a few people - family business. You should head on home. This city isn't safe anymore, you can thank -them- for that."

 

He sighed. It was true. Whiterun was no longer what it used to be. In his youth, Jon could wander the streets in the dark with no fear for his well-being. Baalgruuf's predecessor had so thoroughly wiped out the city's criminal elements that Whiterun was famous for its empty, near-abandoned prison cells.

 

Today, although one could still walk the streets fully expecting to keep their purse, it was not the pickpockets or murderers one had to fear, but ones' own neighbours.

 

"Aye. I suppose I will. See you home, Idolaf."

 

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But Jon had no intention of just slinking back to his room quite yet. As he parted ways with his brother, he took a right out of the Winds District and away from home, towards the eastern part of the city.

 

Towards their usual meeting spot...

 

Today had been draining, he had spent much of it in a daze, thinking of little other than when he could see her again. Olfina.

 

They had not met in days, should he even trouble her with his nonsense? That's not how she would see it, in fact, she would probably love nothing more than to hear every sordid detail about today's events. Olfina had many words to say about the traditions keeping women out of the council, and none of them were good.

 

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Jon Battle-Born closed his eyes and sighed. As long as they were together, everything would be alright, even if the city were to burn around them.

 

It would work out, somehow.

 

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10 Comments


Recommended Comments

-Your court Bard and her outfit is super Cute!

-and holy cow, getting all of those NPCs to sit down must’ve been a headache!

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27 minutes ago, devious-Drunna said:

 

-and holy cow, getting all of those NPCs to sit down must’ve been a headache!

The audience will do what I want or they get teleported into the walls!

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:O Great work!

Definitely worth every month of waiting. 

The writing is fantastic and I'm really impressed by the crowds you put together, not just in this entry but also in the previous one. 

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11 hours ago, Alter Native said:

:O Great work!

Definitely worth every month of waiting. 

The writing is fantastic and I'm really impressed by the crowds you put together, not just in this entry but also in the previous one. 

Thanks! Honestly most of the actual screenshotting doesn't take that long, I just procrastinate. The biggest hassle isn't even necessarily the crowds but the custom posing. There were about 15-20 NPCs on each side of the aisle and although some of them use the same pose, most of them do their own thing, and none of these poses come from any pose packs. ?

 

I want to do the last part of this chapter more quickly, then it's going to be Rianne again next. This one has been a bit slow but it is introductory and there's definitely going to be more action/terrible things happening soon!

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Impressive entry, as usual. Couldn't tell what of the Great War anecdotes were made of or just well documented, and that realistic feel was enforced by the believable behavior of the different factions of Whiterune. The posing, expressions and lighting were great, solemn even, magnifying the effect, dramatizing the event (Vignar pausing to ask his ancestors guidance when touching the sword was an amazing touch). And the writing was fluid, rich and varied, with an overall excellent quality though sometimes gaining in style at the expense of clarity. On a side note, Balgruuf redesign face does seem lesser than his real one (older, more pronounced) to me, but that might be us getting to used to his other one ; but that doesn't apply to the other characters which were either younger either made believably older. Compliments on the bard as well, in particular with the realism  of her interactions with the protagonists. Now, you not going for usual LL entertainment might hinder your stories popularity here ; but to me this is without doubt a first class work. Well done ! :smiley:?

 

Malicia : « Olfina this, Olfina that. It's always about Olfina ! I can cook too, you know ? All those guys are very silly, uh. :classic_sleep: »

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3 hours ago, saltshade said:

You didn't rip off "A song of ice and fire" at all there. Just talking about the title.

It's very much an intentional nod, yes! ? Although, there are reasons it's named the way it is which will become clearer in due time.

 

I'm definitely heavily inspired by ASOIAF in more than just the title, but I did actually put quite a bit of thought into not straight-up copying any plot lines. Some things will be similar (that lady dabbling in zombies that the elves are after might be important to the overarching plot.. ?), but I'm mindful to not be too derivative either.

 

10 hours ago, Tirloque said:

On a side note, Balgruuf redesign face does seem lesser than his real one (older, more pronounced) to me, but that might be us getting to used to his other one ; but that doesn't apply to the other characters which were either younger either made believably older. Compliments on the bard as well, in particular with the realism  of her interactions with the protagonists. Now, you not going for usual LL entertainment might hinder your stories popularity here ; but to me this is without doubt a first class work. Well done ! :smiley:?

 

Thanks!

 

The Battle of the Red Ring is a real battle from TES lore, I just read about these things cos I never actually play this silly game. King Olaf is real too, but everything else about the swords and those book titles is made up. My intention is always to mix actual lore with plausible details that Bethesda didn't build on for various reasons, there will always be something I leave out since the lore is actually quite huge, and I'm sure someone very familiar with it could tear is all apart, but what I'm looking for is plausibility more than anything else.

 

I think Balgruuf is edited by "Ultimate NPC Overhaul II" which for the most part is pretty amazing, editing a lot of other people too like Idolaf, Jon, Olfina, Alfhild, as well as a whole bunch of those spectators who are actually NPCs from all around Skyrim, it edits like 500 NPCs or something. It's pretty great! I'm doing some edits of my own on Olfina now (since she's about to appear in the 3rd and last part of this chapter) but they're pretty small since I'm quite happy with the original too.

 

It's true that Balgruuf looks a bit like an actor in a shampoo commercial, but for this Balgruuf I think it works because he's definitely more on the vain and proud side than the 'kind of generic but effective ruler' that Bethesda seemed to be going with. There will be more development of him in the future, I felt his portrayal was pretty bland (honestly, a lot of the game's characters are that way) and I'm looking for something more nuanced, we'll see how he works out. ?

 

The bard, though I won't say more on her now, will actually have her own chapters, so she's a little more important than she might first seem. ?  Also, if anyone's really a fan of her and wants her in their game, she is actually from a rather popular follower mod, I'm surprised no one recognized her. I did turn her into a player preset and edited her a bit with sculpt, but my changes were really minimal. She can be found here.

 

As for the 'usual LL entertainment', I have to say that I am considering certain scenes in that vein both for characters we've seen and some we haven't yet, but for me it's a fine line between an erotic story and a story that happens to have eroticism in it. Both kinds can be fun, but I'm aiming for the latter, so I'm mindful of doing lewd and salacious things just for the sake of titillating any audience. There will be lewdness at the 'correct' time. ?

 

11 hours ago, Tirloque said:

Malicia : « Olfina this, Olfina that. It's always about Olfina ! I can cook too, you know ? All those guys are very silly, uh. :classic_sleep: »

 

They are quite silly, aren't they?! But Olfina is quite something, you'll see soon enough! :O

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15 hours ago, Irstina said:

It's true that Balgruuf looks a bit like an actor in a shampoo commercial, but for this Balgruuf I think it works because he's definitely more on the vain and proud side than the 'kind of generic but effective ruler' that Bethesda seemed to be going with. There will be more development of him in the future, I felt his portrayal was pretty bland (honestly, a lot of the game's characters are that way) and I'm looking for something more nuanced, we'll see how he works out. ?

A lot of characters are pretty bland. Honestly the strength of TES series usually don't lie in character development ; Serana being the closest thing to an exception.

 

Yet, this allowed for the community to develop them in Bethesda stead. And we've had some fun representations of Balgruuf from Cema and Gamerpoop in particular. ^^

15 hours ago, Irstina said:

Thanks!

 

The Battle of the Red Ring is a real battle from TES lore, I just read about these things cos I never actually play this silly game. King Olaf is real too, but everything else about the swords and those book titles is made up. My intention is always to mix actual lore with plausible details that Bethesda didn't build on for various reasons, there will always be something I leave out since the lore is actually quite huge, and I'm sure someone very familiar with it could tear is all apart, but what I'm looking for is plausibility more than anything else.

I knew about the swords, but not about the Red Ring battle. Not bad from a author who never played the game ! :smiley:

15 hours ago, Irstina said:

The bard, though I won't say more on her now, will actually have her own chapters, so she's a little more important than she might first seem. ?  Also, if anyone's really a fan of her and wants her in their game, she is actually from a rather popular follower mod, I'm surprised no one recognized her. I did turn her into a player preset and edited her a bit with sculpt, but my changes were really minimal. She can be found here.

 

As for the 'usual LL entertainment', I have to say that I am considering certain scenes in that vein both for characters we've seen and some we haven't yet, but for me it's a fine line between an erotic story and a story that happens to have eroticism in it. Both kinds can be fun, but I'm aiming for the latter, so I'm mindful of doing lewd and salacious things just for the sake of titillating any audience. There will be lewdness at the 'correct' time. ?

I wasn't thinking only at lewdness (though featuring some from time to time is indeed on of the main expectations from some of us in LL). But also action scenes, dramatic twists, and so on. Your story is a first class one, but if you let the usual entertainment decrease to much, you might lose the less refined part of the public on the way.  

 

Thx about the Toccata tip, I had heard about her, I think Devianna's been using her in her Necromancer Chronicles too. :classic_smile:

15 hours ago, Irstina said:

They are quite silly, aren't they?! But Olfina is quite something, you'll see soon enough!

Malicia : « I know she's very something : she's so tall she can clean the ceiling with her head !

                

             And then, when she sees normal women, she keeps saying them they're not strong enough, no. :classic_sleep: »

 

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7 hours ago, Tirloque said:

I wasn't thinking only at lewdness (though featuring some from time to time is indeed on of the main expectations from some of us in LL). But also action scenes, dramatic twists, and so on. Your story is a first class one, but if you let the usual entertainment decrease to much, you might lose the less refined part of the public on the way.  

 

Oh there will be blood! :O

 

I can promise there's some of that planned for the final part of this chapter as well as in the next. As for twists, well, I feel twists work better when characters have been established a bit, you can't really do meaningful twists with someone the reader has no connection to. ?

 

And I don't think it's fair to call those who like more action and drama less refined! ? I've thought about what I was doing here and I was concerned that this part could legitimately be 'too slow' and I don't think that would be unfair criticism, but I do think it establishes a particular atmosphere and that will pay off a little later assuming I do it right.

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