I know that I am the Dragonborn, slayer of dragons, devour-er of their souls. But after a dragon saved me from slavery for the second time, I was beginning to feel downright grateful to them. Given the choice, I might have been tempted to take the dragons' side.
Jordy kept me as his house pet (although I've never thought of using a cat in the ways he used me) for a few weeks, then sold me to a customer in exchange for a lode of ebony (which, in fairness, I would have been tempted to do as well, had I owned a slave. Ebony is really nice to work with). I never learned what, exactly, my new master did for a living. We left Whiterun and headed north. I kept my beatings to a minimum by reverting to slave mode, but it was very different this time. My heart still ached from being betrayed (and from being soclose to true freedom) and I did not have any history with this master. He didn't speak to me much, just used my body and then tossed me scraps of food. Perhaps, in time, I would have grown just as used to life with him as I had to Oron, but I really don't think so. My eyes had been re-opened; I was tired of being an object. The only good thing that came out of the change in ownership is that my new master had Jordy remove the old collar and replace it with a shiny new one. I really enjoyed the five seconds of neck freedom.
Just after we entered the snow line and I was trying to decide the most tactful way to bring up the subject of giving me clothes before he ended up with a slavesicle, a familiar whooshing sound swept by overhead. My master pulled his weapons - gotta hand it to these Nords, they are brave. To a fucking fault (right, Lydia?) - and starting screaming battle cries. My arms were bound behind my back, so I was no use. He took the end of the chain connected to my collar and tied it to the branch of a nearby tree and went running forward, where the dragon had landed and was busy spewing fire at a group of Imperial soldiers. I huddled on the other side of the tree and prayed the dragon wouldn't notice me. After much shouting and clanging and roaring, not to mention the scorching of the opposite side of my tree (pro tip: wood is not a good barrier from dragons), there was another whooshing sound, and then a deep silence. After some time, the regular noises of the forest resumed and I dared to peek around the trunk of the smoldering tree.
Charred bodies lay everywhere. My master was nowhere to be seen. I struggled to my feet, then jerked my body until the chain unwound from the branch. It took a good while to find the remains of my master - thank god no one else came by in the interim to re-enslave me - and another good while to get the key in the manacles. Once my arms were free, I turned to the collar, silently thanking my master for replacing the old one. The key turned and with a click I was, for the first time in two-ish years, truly free. I cobbled together an outfit from the less-charred bits of armor, grabbed weapons and what money and food the dead bodies had on them, and got the hell out of there.
I was done being a victim. New plan - get to the Greybeards, as Balgruuf had commanded. They wanted to teach me how to use my voice as a weapon? Fine by me. Then, Markarth. The priestess I had met outside Bleak Falls had mentioned something about being a Defender for Dibella. I didn't know what that meant, but if it turned out to be a way to keep unwanted penises out of me and whips off my back, I would do it. I started walking but stopped when I heard snorting off in the trees. I turned and followed the sound and found, wonder of wonders, horses. The Imperials had kept them out of harm's way. Some of them were already saddled. I untied them and slapped the rumps of all but one. My years of experience watching westerns and reading Louis L'Amour books told me they would make their own ways home. I climbed, with difficulty, onto the last horse and proceeded to sit there while it lowered its head and ate some grass.
Great. A defective horse.
I pulled on the reins and said "giddy-up" and everything else my childhood said I should do, but the horse was recalcitrant. Finally, in frustration, I kicked it with one booted heel. It jerked its head up and started trotting and I almost fell off. Oh, yes, grip the sides with your thighs. I vaguely remembered reading that. I tried it, and the ride become smoother, until my thighs got tired from squeezing. Not so easy, horse riding is, Yoda for some reason said in my mind.
The horse and I meandered down the road at whatever pace he felt like going at any given time. Every now and then he would stop, so I would have to kick him again. It took a couple of days of riding (my butt has never ached so much. Well, aside from the whippings. And the forced anal sex. I take it back – the pain from horse riding is insignificant) for the horse and I to get comfortable with each other and for me to figure out how to disassemble and reassemble the saddle and bridle and bit and whatever all the other stuff is called. I silently thanked L'Amour more than once because I at least had a starting point. Still, it took over an hour each day to get everything set up correctly.
Totally worth it. Horses are very rare in Skyrim, which meant that the trip to Ivarstead was uneventful. Every time something dangerous-looking approached, whether it be wolves or bandits or giant fucking spiders, the horse and I just ran away from it. The seven thousand steps leading from Ivarstead to the top of the mountain would have been a nightmare on foot. Packs of wolves roamed about and a giant white troll had made a home for itself under an outcropping. We just buzzed by all of them. Really, it's the only way to travel.
When we got to the monastery, I had a small dilemma - where to put the horse? I tried to lead it inside, but the monk who greeted us at the door didn't need to say anything to let me know that wouldn't be allowed. I tied the lead to a sconce just outside the door and gave him a pat and went inside. The doorway was crossways to the wind, so I hoped he would have enough shelter to be comfortable.
My time with the Graybeards was brief but illuminating. Yes, you are the Dragonborn. We're here to teach you. Here, try learning these shouts. Wow, you learn quick! Two hours later I had learned a shout that would give me a short burst of speed and another that added power to the shout I had already picked up at Bleak Falls. They did not, much to my surprise and relief, act at all concerned or quizzical about why it had taken me two years to get to them after their summons. I left with instructions to complete my training by going to some underground temple or crypt or something to retrieve the horn of their order’s founder, which made me wonder a number of things, such as whether they had moved the horn there once they learned of my existence or if it had been set there ages ago after some long-since departed Dragonborn had passed this same trial. I didn’t really care enough to ask, though.
I walked toward the door to the monastery with a spring in my steps. So far, so good for this plan! Next, my horse and I would head to Markarth, then...
I opened the door to find the troll feasting on the remains of the horse. It stopped, just as startled as I, and we looked at each other for a long, frozen moment. Then it roared and I shouted it from the steps. It tumbled to the ground at the base of the stairway and I blasted it with my fire and chopped at it with my sword until it stopped moving.
Okay. Revised plan. I would walk the three-hundred-plus miles to Markarth. God damn it.
The very thought pissed me off again. I pounded the troll’s head with the flat of my sword, sending teeth in all directions, while screaming every curse word I had ever heard (and making up a few on the spot). Once my rage cooled a bit, I gathered up several of the teeth. Eventually I had a necklace made out of them, similar to the shark’s tooth necklace I got at Myrtle Beach when I was a child.
Don't feed the bastards - they'll just want more
Edited by jfraser