Skyrim and the Journey of Cerise Ch. 02byDocCIS©
Chapter 02 - Riverwood
Author's note: Please see Chapter 01 for my complete "Author's note', credits, and whatnot, as well as the beginning of the story...
The trip to Riverwood took most of the remaining day. While journeying, I found several plants that triggered a distance memory within my mind, knowing I would need them, so gathered them as I went down the road. As with the use of magic or even swordplay, the awareness of gathering the herbs and flowers was more instinctual than any remembered knowledge I had of my past.
The lack of memory prior to awaking in the wagon as my body was being sexually used by the other prisoners troubled me—not the sexual aspect, but the actual loss of memory.
I briefly wondered at my lack of inhibitions, knowing most women would have been more upset at the flagrant use of their body, but as with the plants or fighting, it somehow felt right. It may have been some earlier training being a follower of Dibella.
As I thought of the goddess an emotional wave of warmth went through me, so I knew it may have something to do with it, but again, memory of my past escaped me.
"Such things bother humans," I began to say out loud... just as quickly correcting my thoughts. What did that mean? I was human, so why was I thinking of being different?
Such contemplations bothered me more than the use of my body.
I tried to make do with the fact I was at least alive and continued on as best I could, hoping time more than anything would bring back my memory.
Something else surprising me was the renewed vigor within my body. I felt alive and energetic, as if I had rested for a long period of time. It was at odds with being captured, almost beheaded, and then running and facing near death from a dragon, then subsequent escape from Helgen and the battles with the Imperial soldiers.
The energy had overwhelmed me when I had sucked Ralof off, as if the sexual act, or the seed I had swallowed, was what was sustaining me.
It was an odd thought which I quickly banished from my thoughts, instead focusing on the road to Riverwood.
At one point while traveling, I saw smoke from a small campfire a ways off the road, but did not investigate. For one thing this was not a peaceful area, so who knows what could have been around the camp site. If somebody was camping that far from the road, they had a desire to keep to themselves. In addition, I was still in stolen Imperial armor, and did not want to explain to either side why I was wearing it, or why it looked well-blooded.
I needed to find a place to rest, clean up, and most importantly find some new equipment. Ralof's suggestion to go to the village of Riverwood was the best thing to do.
My thoughts kept me preoccupied such that during my herb gathering I strayed further from the road and the river than I should have, suddenly confronted by a pair of wolves. They came upon me silently; thankfully, the leather armor protected me from their initial onslaught as I instinctively burned one of the creatures to death with my inherent magic and killed the other by severing its jugular with a swipe of my sword. The fight lasted less than ten seconds, and I once again wondered how I was so proficient with fighting.
Once again the use of magic and swordplay came to my body like I had always used it. It was like swimming or getting dressed and lacing up my boots, it just came naturally. I had no explanations other than my memory loss was more on who I was than what I could do.
I did take the extra time to skin the wolves, as I felt the hides would be of some value—particularly if I wanted to replace my current armor. Although thankful for the protection of the Imperial armor, I knew I needed to replace it. With the unrest brewing between the Empire and Stormcloaks, it would be better to avoid conflict and dress as neutral as possible when traveling.
It was for this reason I was cautious entering the region surrounding the small village of Riverwood, as I knew not how a lone woman in Imperial armor would fare. My worries were ill-founded I discovered, as apparently Ralof had arrived a few hours earlier and word of my arrival had spread throughout the small village.
"Hail stranger!" a guard in the walkway above the main road called to me, "you must be the one Ralof told us to keep an eye out for," he hollered.
As I moved closer he looked down at me, his eyes travelling across my body, deliberately focusing on my bare stomach, the tight armor exaggerating my curves, and every centimeter of exposed skin. I felt a sudden rush of yearning across my body, centering between my legs as I stared back at him.
"Yup, there can be no mistake, Ralof said to keep an eye out for the fairest warrior we had ever seen, dressed as if she was willing to take on every man's sword!" he laughed. Once again I felt my body flush at the double entendre as the guard waved me into the town.
The small settlement was peaceful. Unlike walled Helgen, the village was an open design with fortifications only on the front and back areas where the road entered and exited; however, it was not defenseless I noted. The north side of the town abutted against the river and the south nestled against the foot of the mountains, both providing impressive natural defenses. Any large force would have to enter from the road.
What struck me most was the how spring was flourishing within and around the town. Flowers were blooming and trees well leafed—in stark contrast to Helgen where snow and winter were still present. Riverwood was located in a valley between the mountains providing a refuge from the seasons, and the pocket of warm weather was noticeable.
It had only taken half a day to get here, yet the climate change was palpable as I realized the underground paths we had followed beneath Helgen had taken us considerable distance down the foot of the mountains.
Entering the town beneath the overhanging guard walkway, I heard the sounds of hammering—a smithy off in the distance and to my left. I felt a pang of recollection hit me and just as quickly flirt away. I was getting used to these flights of memory coming and going. As they had not steered me wrong, I took them as signs of needing to visit the smithy, something I had already planned on doing to find new equipment.
One my way there an elderly woman accosted me from a balcony. "A dragon, I saw a dragon!" she cried out to me from above.
Looking around, my hand went to my sword in preparation of another attack until I realized she was speaking of something in the past.
I noticed a man walk up the lane from the other end of town to join me. Looking up at the woman he said, "What? What is it now mother?" he said loudly to the woman above us.
"A dragon, it was as big as the mountain and black as the night," she said to us both. "I saw it; it flew right over the barrow."
The young man looked me and smiled, as if this was a common occurrence and the woman needed to be humored.
"Dragons now is it mother? If you keep on like this everybody in town will think you are crazy," he told the woman, once again looking at me and winking. "I have better things to do than listen to your fantasies," he said to her, turning away on some other business.
"You'll see," the woman shouted after him. "It was a dragon. It will kill us all and then you'll believe me," she cried.
Having first-hand experience with a dragon sighting and wanting to know more, particularly if her experience was recent, I hailed the old woman who introduced herself as Hilde.
"By Sheor, what do you want?" she asked me.
Asking if I could join her, I climbed up the ramp to her balcony and joined her on a bench.
The view was magnificent, the balcony overlooking the river and the mountains beyond. I saw the smithy below, as well as a lumber mill behind it as I greeted the woman.
Immediately with the openness of the elderly she looked at me, "You look sick, I hope it's not contagious," she said.
I smiled. "I've had a rough day," I answered, continuing to smile at her.
Or maybe it was more than a day, who knows how long we were in the keep or how long I was unconscious in the wagon. I started to ask her more about the dragon as she started interrupted me.
"Did you hear? The Riverwood Trader was robbed! Poor Lucan must be torn to pieces about it!" she said as I again asked her about the dragon.
"Nobody believes me," she replied, "but I tell you, I saw a dragon. Bad times are upon us."
I asked when she saw it; however, her stream of thoughts bounced around worse than a skipping stone across rough water as she looked at me, "It's my boy Sven you need to listen to. He sings at the Inn almost every night," she said. "Sven has the voice of a snow lark, the only good thing he got from his father," she told me as I realized she was rambling.
I smiled at her, again inquiring about the dragon.
"You know," she grinned, "my boy fancies that Camilla Velarius. She'll come around soon enough," she said, staring off into the distance. Then she looked at me, her eyes critiquing my body. "You should visit the Inn, maybe get a room with him; that will make him forget about that Camilla," she told me with a wink. "Camilla! I've seen her with that Faendal. Filthy elf needs to keep with his own kind," she lamented.
I smiled sadly, realizing senility had taken her long ago. Wishing her well, I went back down the main lane while she continued talking.
"What's happened to my Skyrim?" the woman cried out behind me. "Everywhere you look its cats, lizards, and elves! It's sickening," she said as I made my way back to the main road towards the smithy.
As I came down the stairs the man—Hilde's son Sven I now knew—greeted me.
"I hope my mother has not bothered you stranger," he said as I shook my head and told him I was just offering her pleasantries.
Sven was not particularly handsome, although some women would have disagreed, but he was comely enough as he smiled. He introduced himself, saying he was the village's bard.
"A fair maiden such as yourself should enjoy the finer things," he told me. "Visit me at the Inn and I'll regale you with songs of battle, love, and..." he paused as he gave my body a long look, "of seduction," he finished smiling at me.
Once again the blatant attention of a man caused stirrings in my body, like a shutter moving back and forth to reveal or block out the daylight as I smiled back at him, my cheeks reddening.
He assumed I was blushing from embarrassment, but I knew it was more from passion as he continued, "I look forward to seeing more of you," he smiled, his eyes once again travelling over my body before making a large bow and heading back down the center lane of the village.
The leather cuirass scraped across my nipples and I shuddered, thoughts of naked, entwined bodies filling my mind.
Taking a moment to compose myself, I headed towards what I rightly assumed was the town smithy.
As I climbed up the stairs to the smithy the sounds of hammering and grinding became more prominent. The area was an opened porch providing ventilation from both the heat and fumes of metal crafting. To the left was a large forge and anvil; while across from it to my right was a workbench where a young girl was hamming some plating onto a leather cuirass. Further into the smithy were another workbench, a tanning table, as well as a grinding stone.
It was the grindstone the smith was at, sharpening a large, well-crafted two-handed sword.
He nodded to me in greeting as I waited for him to finish, innately aware one should never interrupt a craftsman in the middle of his work. One misplaced hammer, or lack of sharpening could mean a life, particularly in his business.
The girl on the other hand looked up from her work at the bench and immediately walked towards me. "Hello," she said, "welcome to the Riverwood Smithy," she said smiling. Her demeanor was all business as I smiled back down at her. She must have barely been in her teens, but tried to be all seriousness, acting as an adult as only the young can do.
"Are you in charge here?" I asked solemnly as I greeted her, "I have some work I may need done." I said.
She looked back at the smith who smiled, continuing his grinding while I talked with the girl, his daughter and apprentice I assumed based upon the expression of love on his face.
Apparently getting permission to proceed, she said once more with all seriousness, "My father Alvor is the blacksmith, I'm his assistant—I mean, his apprentice," she told me proudly, confirming my suspicions. "You know, papa says I'm too friendly with strangers, but you seem alright," she said looking back at her father who simply nodded his head.
While I waited for the smith to finish, I made small talk with the girl, who told me her name was Dorthe—pronouncing it as 'Dorthee.' Asking what she was working on as she began to explain all the inner workings of sewing plate onto leather, how they needed to overlap and not show any gaps for protection, but far enough apart so the metal was not wasted, then instructing me how to hammer it out to fit perfectly.
Some of her words reminded me of my own training—again the thought of my past quickly escaping me—as I simply nodded to her as she lectured me on the proper ways to polish plate depending on the type of metal. For some strange reason, all she explained I instinctively knew, wondering if I had trained at a blacksmith previously in my life, yet another thing hidden within my forgotten memories.
Eventually the smith finished with his sharpening and stood up to greet me. "Ain't every day we get visitors in Riverwood," he told me, "You must be the stranger Ralof said to expect."
"It seems everybody knows of my arrival," I told him pleasantly.
The smith smiled back. "It's a small town; gossip is the bane of all small towns. And when Ralof came running into town looking like he had taken on the entire Imperial army single-handedly," he paused and smiled, "Well, news is news," he said.
I saw his eyes appraising me. Although there was a slight hint of lust in his eyes, he mainly looked at the armor I was wearing, his assessment being that of somebody who had worked with it all his life.
"Usually Ralof is full of stories, so when he started talking about dragons and fair maidens who could wield a sword better then he...well, let's just say I've known him since a small boy and his tales become more fanciful each time I hear one," he smiled. "I must say his description of you was no understatement," he smiled as I blushed. "So what can this poor smith do for you?" he asked.
I expressed my concern for travelling in an Imperial outfit, asking if he had any armor or weapons available I could barter for, as I confessed to having little money. I also showed him the wolf hides I had gotten on my way here, hoping to sell them as well.
"I'm sure we can find something to negotiate with," he told me smiling.
For a brief moment I wondered if his 'payment' would be similar to Ralof's. I was not upset as I knew other women would be, instead feeling again a brief twinge of excitement. I pictured him towering over me, my body offered to him.
"Whatever you need," he told me, "by Ysmir, if it is simple and strong, I can forge it," he smiled.
I again felt my body flush, my last exchange for skills causing me to smile as the smith shook his head, guessing my train of thought. "I'm tempted lass, but I'm a married man," he chuckled.
I turned and looked at his workshop and he, noticing me looking at his tools with appraisal, asked, "Have you ever worked at a smithy before?"
I told him of my recent memory loss, but admitted I felt some twinge of recognition as I came to the forge.
"I'll tell you what; on the workbench is everything you need to make me an Iron Dagger. I was going to have my daughter make it to test her on her apprenticeship, but let's see what you can do with it," he told me.
Handing me a thick pair of gloves and a leather apron to protect my midriff and skin from any harm, I turned to the table. I realized his request was no small deed, as the table held only the hide of a deer, some wooden blocks, and several pieces of stone, thin veins of iron ore running through them.
Comprehending this was going to take more than a few hours, I set aside my gear and set to work, not only to prove to myself I had the talent, but also the smith. With just raw materials, I was being tested not only for my knowledge in blacksmithing, but also leatherworking and smelting techniques.
In the back of my mind came the brief thought that with the proper tools, I would be able to create an unbreakable dagger within an hour; however, as with all other games my mind was playing, it was a brief glimpse into my psyche, which I was trying to ignore. Such thoughts were fanciful, as I knew of no mortal who could fashion a weapon in such a time.
I was thankful the hide was already cured and tanned, needing only to be stripped down and conditioned for the handle of the blade—the reason for the blocks of wood—as it would save time processing. The first of my tasks was to smelt the ore, as it would take a while for the metal to melt.
Stoking the bellows I added more coal and let the fire simmer, while I took a hammer and broke up the stone into smaller pieces, adding them to a large clay smelting pot I positioned over the fire. The goal was to heat up the pieces—the smaller the better—to melt out the ore and then combine it with crushed charcoal for strength before forming it into workable pieces.
Beneath the clay pot was a small opening which would allow the melted iron to drip out into another clay mold beneath, where I could then mix in charcoal before casting out the shape of the blade to be tempered.
As the rocks heated, I stripped down the hide, occasionally working the bellows as the coals progressively became white hot.
Eventually the white-hot liquid metal started dripping out of the pot into the mold, so I set down the wooden blocks I was carving for the hilt and started paying more attention to the smelting. Once I knew I had enough liquid metal, I mixed in the charcoal, pouring the mixture into a dagger mold the smith had available.