The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Song of the Dragonborn
And the Scrolls have fortold of black wings in the cold,
That when brothers wage war come unfurled!
Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound,
With a hunger to swallow the world!
As an end to the evil of all Skyrim's foes,
Believe, believe, the Dragonborn comes.
For the darkness has passed and the legend yet grows,
You'll know, you'll know, the Dragonborn's come.
It had been roughly twenty-six years since the Great War had been ended by the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, so named after the White-Gold tower in the Imperial City, where it was signed. The terms had been highly unfavorable, but after the Battle of the Red Ring, the Concordat was the Empire's only hope of surviving the wrath of the Dominion. Many were angry with Emperor Titus Mede II, and some claimed that the treaty was merely a means by which the Dominion could make the Empire even weaker, and easier to conquer later on. Judging by the way the Thalmor swaggered about, one could hardly disagree with the Concordat's detractors.
After twenty-six years of Thalmor oppression, the Empire was eroding, a rusting hulk, divided despite the best intentions of its Emperor and the continuing struggle of the Legion to maintain order in the unrulier provinces. Master Osilius had put all that behind him long ago. The Battle of the Red Ring had been a victory for the Empire as its Legions retook the Imperial City, but it had been a messy affair that had broken Osilius' will as a man.
He'd gone his own way, and begun to study nature and its properties, deciding that it would be better to observe creation than to continue his participation in destruction. Meanwhile, a civil war had started in the north, in Skyrim, and Hammerfell had seceded to continue the Great War on alone, eventually fighting the Dominion's forces to a standstill five years later.
By the time the Empire called upon him again, Master Osilius had settled down in Skingrad, taken on an apprentice, and was providing the town with potions and ingredients. As he was also using his skills in transmutation to turn iron ore into silver and gold, he had first assumed that the Imperial soldiers who showed up at his door were there to arrest him. It had become clear, though, that the Legion had other things in mind for him. They knew of his activities between abandoning his duties as a soldier and his settling down in Skingrad, and the Emperor needed the skills of a naturalist such as himself.
Dragons had returned.
"So, then, this is the aftermath of a dragon attack. It must have been a very powerful creature to do this on its own."
"I hope the Emperor hasn't sent you here to tell me what I already know."
"Forgive my simple observations. I am old."
Master Osilius felt no ill will toward General Tullius, and as a former soldier, he could even respect the man for his forthwith manner, but he hoped the man would leave soon. He didn't like having someone watching over his shoulder while he worked, even if the observer was a General in the Legion.
"I don't have time for this," Tullius commented, as though picking up on Osilius' desire to have him gone, "I have a war to fight. When you finish your research, find me in Solitude."
"Very well," Osilius replied, trying not to show too much relief at the General's departure, "Solitude it is, then."
Tullius, escorted by two Legionnaires, left Osilius to his investigation. There were other soldiers about, but Osilius didn't know how long they were going to stay. They, too, had their war to fight, and Helgen was beyond saving... it was amazing, a whole town reduced to rubble by a single creature. That's what Tullius reported, anyway, and he had no reason to lie.
"I'm not so sure this isn't the work of the Daedra," Maerin said, "I'll bet Mehrunes Dagon is behind it."
"No," Osilius said, examining a blackened dagger, "Dagon was banished to Oblivion by Akatosh himself in the Third Era. This isn't him... though it has the makings of something much, much worse."
"Worse than Mehrunes Dagon?"
"Worse than Mehrunes Dagon," Osilius confirmed, "No, what we have here is much stranger. Dragons have been extinct for... well, ever. They've not been seen in many lifetimes... and yet, here they are. It seems to have something to do with the civil war, I'm sure of it..."
"You're not telling me something, then," Maerin said disapprovingly. He knew that she was as eager as he was to figure out what was going on. To study a dragon... that would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Dangerous, of course, but studying any sentient creature was dangerous, whether it was the goblins of Cyrodiil or the Dragons of Skyrim.
"General Tullius reported that the dragon came right before they could execute Ulfric Stormcloak."
"The rebel traitor?"
"The very same."
"What's the dragon got to do with him?"
"It is very possible that Ulfric could be the Dragonborn."
"Ulfric? The Dragonborn?"
"Yes. It would be a very grave circumstance, if it were true."
Osilius looked up at the somewhat-intact keep and stroked his beard thoughtfully, "Don't forget, though, that there were other prisoners here besides Ulfric who escaped. It is entirely possible that one or none of them could be Dragonborn. Perhaps the attack was all happenstance."
"That would explain the lack of news."
"It would indeed."
"You don't believe it."
"Ah, you know me too well, my girl," Osilius said with a smile, "There is often truth to legends, especially in this world, where things like magicka and doorways to other planes of Aetheria exist in the mortal realm. For now, though, I doubt that there is something here that will tell us anything about dragons, other than their power. I suggest we head to Whiterun... from there we will have easy access to all of Skyrim."
"The city's closed to outsiders."
"There's been a dragon attack in Helgen."
"We've just come from Helgen."
"The city's closed."
Maerin seemed ready to club the stubborn guard, but Osilius intervened, "Please, sir, you wouldn't turn away an elderly man and his daughter, would you?"
"She's your daughter?"
"She's a Breton."
"Her mother was a Breton."
The guard wasn't going to be persuaded... though it was a ruse that generally worked. I'm an elderly man, may I stay just one night in a tavern with a warm bed? Perhaps it hadn't worked because it was the middle of the day, not particularly cold, and the guard had somehow deduced that Maerin was a Breton... it was strange, she could fool most people into thinking she was a native of Cyrodiil most of the time. Maybe, though, it was time for Osilius to start introducing Maerin as his granddaughter... was he really getting that old?
Though it hadn't been dark when they approached Whiterun, the sun was getting low in the sky by the time they'd led their horse back to Riverwood. One might not say that they were fortunate to get a room--the Sleeping Giant Inn seemed to get most of its customers with food and drink, rather than a place to stay--but they were certainly weary from the road, and glad for a chance to rest.
"So, then, where do we start?"
"Well... that's hard to say. Perhaps we go to Windhelm and see if Ulfric is the Dragonborn."
"And get beheaded on the way in?"
"Perhaps a different plan, then?"
At that moment, the ground shook, and the very air seemed to ripple with power. It was enough to cause Maerin to stumble, but Osilius had the good fortune to have been sitting down. It was over in an instant, much like a thunderclap.
"What in the name of the Nine was that?"
It seemed that Maerin wasn't the only one who wanted to know. There were several voices outside the room who were inquiring the same thing, though in different ways. Osilius went to join them, Maerin on his heels.
"It was the Greybeards," an older man was saying, "'Dovahkiin!' They were calling the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar!"
The bard began to sing a song to please the elated crowd... and what better song than "The Dragonborn Comes," Osilius had to wonder.
"High Hrothgar," he murmured, "Curious..."
"What is High Hrothgar?"
"Don't let any of these Nords hear you saying that," Osilius said, only half-joking. He led Maerin back to the room and took his seat, "High Hrothgar is a monastery overlooking the town of Ivarstead... the Greybeards are the monks that inhabit it. That certainly decides it... we'll start our search for the Dragonborn at Ivarstead."
"But the dragons?"
"Where there is Dovahkiin, my girl, there will be dovah."
Thalmor Embassy, near Solitude
"So, the Dragonborn reappears in this world."
"The Greybeards seem to think so."
"Then we must investigate."
"With all due respect, the Greybeards won't let us into High Hrothgar."
"Knock the doors down, then. They're naught but a bunch of stubborn old monks."
"Stubborn old monks, who are capable of Shouting like Ulfric Stormcloak?"
"Are you buying into these Nord superstions, Ilmion?"
"Of course not. I'm merely proposing that we approach the problem of the Dragonborn with a bit of caution."
"Very well. How would you go about it?"
"We must find him, there is no doubt."
"We can use him to further divide the Empire."
"An interesting notion."
"Then, once we have no more use of him..."
"Of course. Very well, then, Ilmion... you may proceed... for now."
"Thank you, Lady Elenwen."
"Don't disappoint me, Ilmion."