Shinbira: Journal of a Survivor. Part 1, Chapter 5

  • Author’s note: contains violence and adult themes

    I follow Hadvar - Hadvar the Nord! – warily now, reluctantly. He does seem to know where he is going.

    On the other hand, I’ve got out of worse places than this on my own before…

    Coming out of the storage room I enter a passageway. Out of the corner of my eye, flickering in & out of vision in the torchlight, I see a cart, and a low bench.

    Stopping to investigate I see more food there. I am a survivor. I have stayed alive amidst hardship so far by knowing when to take advantage of my situation, by knowing when an opportunity presents itself – whether big or small. So I stop to gather the food in the cart. It’s cabbages. I don’t particularly like cabbages, especially raw, but food is food! I also find a potion on the bench, & I take that also.

    “Come on! We have to keep moving!” that voice calls back to me. Again.

    That Nord voice. That voice that I now find grating, annoying my very ears.

    What’s your hurry, Nord? We’re out of immediate danger! We’re in the Keep, underground. The dragon is far above us, separated from us by yards of solid stone!


    I say nothing, however, keeping my own counsel, for now. I continue filling my pack, at my own pace. If Hadvar wants my company he can wait.

    When finished I walk on. And there he is, waiting.

    He needs me! He is weak.

    Do I need him? No: I am strong!

    Going down a set of steps we descend further underground, and emerge out into another room.

    More Stormcloaks! This time they are already engaged in battle, fighting two men – presumably Imperials who work down here.

    As much as I enjoy killing these Stormcloaks, this time I leave them to it: I want to see what happens. I can always clean up afterwards.

    Hadvar wades in, to the defence of his fellow Imperials. Soon they are victorious, & once again there are more Stormcloaks lying dead on the floor. Once again I strip them of their belongings. They don’t need them now!

    I have a chance now to look around, and my eyes are met with a grisly sight.

    The floor is coloured by bloodstains, old & dry, their dark red contrasting against the grey of the stone. Freshly spilt Stormcloak blood oozes & spreads, adding bright crimson to the mix, patterns on patterns, layer upon layer. It’s almost pretty.

    The walls are decorated by skeletons, pinned and chained, their arms and legs stretched out. They grin down at us, jaws fixed in permanent rictus.

    The room is furnished with small cells, locked, most of them containing bodies in varying states of decay, or more skeletons. In a corner the fireplace is a brazier of burning coals, and scattered ‘implements’ of many kinds litter the floor.

    I am at once attracted to & disturbed by this, and for one of the rare times in my young life I stop to think, to consider this.

    I am shunted out of my musings.

    Just as well: such pathetic self-examination will only get you killed, Shinbira, and it won’t put food in your belly!

    My interrupter, once again, is Hadvar.

    He is again doing something he is very good at: stating the bloody obvious!

    “A torture room.” he says.

    Really? I hadn’t noticed!

    “Gods, I wish we didn’t need these.”

    Is he trying to seem nice? I don’t trust ‘Nice’. ‘Nice’ gets you killed. I am not ‘Nice’.

    At least the victims were Nords, I tell myself, so it’s not so bad!

    On the other hand, after the events of today, I‘m not so sure…

    This explains at least why there are all these Stormcloaks around: they’re on a rescue mission. Not a terribly successful one.

    Hadvar explains about the dragon. The torturer doesn’t believe him & stubbornly decides to stay where is. The old fool! His younger assistant has more sense & announces that he’s coming with us.

    We see a cell containing one of the fresher corpses, still more or less intact. Taking a lockpick I easily unlock it – another thing I’m good at. Inside I find a mage. He has a spell tome, potions, magically-imbued raimant and some gold coins. Not for very long.

    The others run ahead as I work, leaving me alone with the torturer.

    I don’t like torturers...

    No matter that most of his victims were Stormcloaks, probably. And anyway, they often carry good loot!

    With a swift look over my shoulder I make sure we’re alone. I draw my sword. He’s a tough old goat and surprisingly quick for his age, but 2 or 3 swings later and his body too decorates the floor, with a look of shock now permanently fixed on its face. Quickly taking all he has on him I rejoin the others.

    We run past more bodies & skeletons, hung in cages, chained to the floors & walls. I stop to loot them all, mostly finding small amounts of coin.

    Stepping through a breach in the wall we enter a more wild part of the Keep, if that’s what it still is, the smooth stone-paved walls & floors giving way to rough-hewn but sizable tunnels. Still lit, although dimly.

    Coming into a cavern we find a narrow bridge spanning a shallow, swift stream. Over the bridge there are more Stormcloaks, the largest group yet. Hadvar & his friend charge in, just ahead of me.

    I draw my sword…

    Table of Contents


  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  January 11, 2016
    It's just what he does: part of survival. Thanks for reading & 'liking'.
  • Mirric
    Mirric   ·  January 11, 2016
    I like how he keeps stripping corpses.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  June 11, 2015
    My apologies, I never liked it earlier.
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  June 4, 2015
    Thanks Sotek, he's already taken on a life of his own that I didn't anticipate!
    The next one's written & ready BTW; I'm just waiting until I'm allowed to publish it. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  June 4, 2015
    you just wait until Shin goes off on his own against your plot. (It'll happen a lot of he's anything like Aela and Sotek. They are always running off without me).
    I wonder what'll happen when he meets the spiders.
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  June 4, 2015
    Oh, and thanks :)
  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  June 4, 2015
    So am I lol!
    I'm just amazed that I'm on chapter 5 & still in Helgen! I thought he'd be long gone by then
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 4, 2015
    Hehe, sometimes I kill the torturer when Hadvar's not looking too. Shinbira is one angry Dunmer. I am very curious to see how his story unfolds. Keep it up.