The caravan driver nervously tugged on his collar as he tried to keep the horses on the trail. The horses knew where they were going; they had done this trail countless times. But the increase in crime and violence on the path to Dawnstar had the shorty stubby man concerned. He had a bad feeling he was going to be the next victim on a rapidly growing list.
He wasn't even a dwarf or a gnome of any sort; he was just an unfortunately short man. Besides those races all had long since become extinct. No, he just came from a long line of short men, the same lineage that had been driving the caravan of goods all around the country for over a century now.
But now that civil war had broken out, patrols had lessened on the trails and bandits had taken full advantage of it. The poor man had heard stories of other merchants who had been raided and killed on this trail in the past few months, but if he had tried an alternative route to Dawnstar it would've taken him an additional two weeks to get around the mountains. And again that pesky civil war was raising prices across the board, so if he didn't turn a profit soon his wife and children would go hungry back in their small hamlet village.
So here he was trapped in the prison of his work as he anxiously clutched the rope tethered to his two horses who trudged along slowly. The hard splintered wood of the caravan was beginning to wear on his bottom and the cold night bit at his exposed skin, a rough spin tunic not covering nearly enough flesh. He longed to escape.
As he looked around at the dark forest, every shadow looked like a threat, every bush a monster. The forest the trail ran through was a beautiful lush pine forest during the day but the night always cast a shadow on everything. And man was always going to fear what it couldn't see in the dark.
Suddenly there was a rush of air as an arrow skimmed the hair just above his ear and the caravan driver's eyes widened in shock. The sounds of rabid men exploded around him and the horses grew frightened and broke into a run. Clinging onto his small hand rail the caravan driver hung on for dear life as he listened to the hoots and howls of bandits around him. A barricade suddenly came into view and the horses slipped trying to stop and turn around. The whole caravan overturned, sending the poor driver flying into the dirt.
He awoke moments later, mud in his eye and coughing up dirt. As his vision corrected itself once he rubbed the mud from his eye he saw the bandits raiding his poor destroyed caravan and cutting up his horses into meat. With a slight whimper he tried to crawl away, praying to any of the nine gods that he'd see his wife and child again.
"Well well well, what do you we have here?" the poor short stubby man's heart stopped as he looked upwards to see a bandit dressed in fur armor look down at him with a wry grin. Reaching down the bandit with a crude Mohawk and war paint picked the caravan driver up by the collar with one hand and held him in place. The driver squirmed and the bandit laughed crudely revealing his missing teeth.
"Don't suppose you have gold in your pockets do ya?" the bandit asked as he raised the short man up to eye level. The man wheezed and sweat poured off his face.
"Please… I have a son…"
"Oh you have a son do ya? Well we'll make sure to send him your hide!" the bandit yelled as he threw the driver off to the side. The driver rolled onto his back and looked around as five more bandits closed in around him.
The bandit leader howled and yelled, "It's play time boys!" The poor driver let out a scream as the bandits rushed in, crude weapons drawn. His thoughts went to Rorikstead, his home where his wife and son were waiting for him. But where he'd never return to.
Suddenly an arrow landed beside the drivers head, stopping all the bandits in their tracks. They looked around for a moment, none of them had bows drawn. So where did the arrow come from? They all wondered as they looked up to the trees. Silence blanketed the forest once again.
A dark figure dropped down in front of one of the bandits surrounding the driver and sliced him from shoulder to hip with a two handed great sword. The bandit gurgled and collapsed backwards and the other four charged in. A small glimmer could be seen as the mysterious figure smiled and he quickly ducked down as two arrows were let loose behind him. They soared past the figure and hit two of the bandits making them stumble back in pain. The other bandits paused for a moment, not sure what else was hiding in the bushes.
The bandit leader growled and yelled at the others, "Come on you morons attack him!" But just as he said that he heard a low growl behind himself, and he slowly turned to acknowledge it. The other bandits closed in on the dark figure but stopped as they heard their leader scream. Everyone turned to see what the commotion was and the dark figure grinned as they all watched the bandit leader soar through the air. Three large claw marks were etched in the bandit's leader skin reaching from his face down to his legs and in his place now stood an armored frost troll.
"Atta' boy Frosty!" the dark figure yelled, and he charged forward at the other bandits. He slashed at one bandit, but this one was fast enough to block the attack. The man quickly slashed the opposite way and the bandit boldly parried the attack. With an eager grin the bandit swiped out with his crude iron axe, but the dark attacker leaned back to dodge it. Using one hand he rested on the ground for balance the man back flipped while kicking upwards, hitting the bandit in the chin making him fall backwards.
He was rather deft for someone using such a heavy blade but as the other two bandits closed in on him he found he needed a plan. However as one bandit ran in with a mace held high a feline figure dropped down in front of him and bashed him with a large ebony shield. The bandit collapsed to the ground, and the dark figure grinned as he blocked an attack from the third bandit.
As the feline figure quickly stabbed a katana into the down bandit he asked with his thick Khajiit accent, "What would you do without me my friend?"
The man chuckled as he held the other bandit at bay and pushing his sword forward breaking the power struggle he replied, "Oh I don't know. Probably just take care of all these guys by myself like I used to." The bandit stumbled backwards and tried to find his footing, but the man charged forward faster than the bandit could have anticipated.
As the man slashed at the bandit's throat the Khajit countered, "Ah but then you would not have the wonderful pleasure of my company." The bandit's head fell to the ground followed shortly after by its body. The man shook his shoulders to free tension as he turned back to his Khajiit companion.
"Well, define pleasure Kharjo," the man shot back, drawing a laugh from the Khajiit. They both turned to look at the third bandit they were fighting as he screamed and charged them. The two exchanged quick looks and then back stepping away they let the armored frost troll run through them at the bandit. His screams of valor changed to screams of terror as the troll closed in on him.
"Easy enough," the dark armored figure stated as his smile faded. He turned to look at the other two bandits who had been hit with arrows earlier, and now had bows drawn and pointed at the trio. Looking around quickly he realized they were the only two left besides the poor bandit now being beat to death by his frost troll.
"Yeah really don't have time for this," the figure said, and he let out a quick low whistle. Suddenly there was a large gust of wind, and the flapping of wings could be heard. The two looked around suspiciously, not sure what was coming. Ignoring what had just happened, the two prepared to fire when a set of claws suddenly swooped in and picked both them up in a heartbeat. All was heard were passing screams as the blur flew them off to their doom.
"Well that takes care of that," the Khajiit stated as he walked up beside his friend. The armored frost troll, blood staining his fur, walked up beside them as well and waited for orders. Just as the driver couldn't be more amazed the gust of wind returned and down from the sky descended a dragon. Only the dragon's scales and skin seemed to be decaying, and its horns curved backwards and then upwards.
"Nice job, Durnevhiir," the man remarked.
In a low deep grumble Durnevhiir replied, "It was an amusing distraction. But we need to press onward do we not?" The man nodded, and he sheathed his long great sword across his back. For the first time the driver got a good look at his heroes and noticed what an odd bunch they were.
The dragon, Durnevhiir, appeared to be already dead, rotting at the core but still as capable and strong as ever. Then the frost troll, Frosty was what the man had called him, was armored clad around the head and arms and peculiarly seemed tame now that the battle was over. There was also the Khajit, Kharjo, whose grey hair and blue eyes went well with his ebony armor that had a blue trim. On his back was a bow and he carried a Blade's katana and a large black shield made of ebony.
Lastly there was the man who seemed to be leading them. He was wearing a green tunic with a brown scarf that trailed over his shoulder. Underneath there was chainmail and over top were several bandoliers and pouches. He had almost no hair, it was seemingly shaved off and a teal tattoo of archaic design marked his left eye. His great sword was of an old Nordic design, the blade curved and then narrowed again until it curved into the large point on the end. But most interestingly of all it glowed with the power of fire.
"Alright, let's keep moving," the man instructed, but the poor short driver yelled,
Everyone turned to acknowledge him, and then he continued, "Please don't leave me here! Take me with you, at least as far as Dawnstar!" The man shared looks with Kharjo and Durnevhiir for a few moments, debating mentally what to do.
Kharjo finally shrugged his shoulders and stated, "It's on the way." The man looked down to the ground for a few moments, and then sighing he let out a smile.
Waving his hand the man said, "Come on." The driver eagerly stood up and chased after the group.
The group traveled through the night on foot as Durnevhiir kept watch over head and the man took the lead.
After a few hours passed the man walked up beside Kharjo and asked, "So what's going on here? Who are you guys?"
Kharjo smiled and asked, "Ah so you would like to hear a story? I warn you it's not a short one." The driver looked forward at the leaders back as he pressed forward.
A few moments passed, and he responded, "I think we have time. And who is he?" Kharjo's grin grew, and as he looked forward to their leader.
"That is a question I still do not know the full answer to. But listen up and listen well little man. For what I do know that man may be the last hope for all of Skyrim."