Shinbira: Journal of a Survivor, Chapter 21

  • Last Seed 21st, Bleak Falls Barrow

    Facing this ancient Nord puzzle-door, I find the golden claw in my pack. Turning it this way and that, I see it! Yes, it's unmistakable: animal symbols on its 'palm', three of them. Wasn't that what Arvel said: "The key is in the palm of your hand"? 

    Bear, moth, owl: without the effort I was expecting I rotate the stone rings to match the claw; they move into place. Barely containing my excitement, I insert the claw: it clicks! 

    The big stone door slowly slides down with a great grinding growl of indignation. 

    "Faendal: I think this is it!" I call back to my companion, who's still entranced by the stories on the walls. This time he listens, & we walk through. Into another rough-hewn, dimly-lit tunnel. 

    We're close though: I can feel it! I draw my greatsword: I feel that I may need it soon.

    Very quickly the tunnel broadens into a large cavern, with broken structures, steps, and - clouds of bats! We've disturbed them from their resting place and they brush our faces as they fly past, forcing us to duck. I suspect no-one has been here in quite some time.  

    Walking further inwards the cavern expands further before us.

    "Wow - would you look at that!" Faendal exclaims, in awe.

    I look.

    There's water everywhere: coming from above in numerous falls, from so far up we can't see the sources; flowing around and underneath us. The freshness of flowing water assails our nostrils, the watery wind washes over our faces. So strange to feel such life in the midst of all this death and decay!

    The far end of the cavern is emitting an eery light, stone steps leading up to what looks like an altar. Behind is a wall, sculptured from out of the rock, high and smooth, but with a large strange symbol carved at its head: looking like some ferocious face intensely leering down at us. I know in my bones - and I think Faendal does too - that this is something special, what the bandit Arvel was prepared to risk everything for.

    As I ascend I hear the most unusual noise, one I would never expect to hear in such a place: chanting! Where does it come from?! As I approach the wall it increases in volume, until it becomes deafening, hurting my sensitive ears. Yes, it's coming from the wall itself! As I move closer I see strange writing, in a language I've never seen before. Suddenly energy is flowing out of the wall and towards me: I feel enervated, elevated, invigorated, enlightened, uplifted - like nothing I've ever experienced before! I raise my arms up as high as I can, up to the heavens, as the strange energy flows into me. I see a few of the letters glowing with a bright, unworldly light - a word?! The light, the sounds, the sensations; new concepts flooding my mind, my sul, filling my very being. It's utterly overwhelming!

    Suddenly, quickly, it subsides, and all that remains in my mind is a single word: 'Force'. I find myself prostrate on the floor, empty, as if drained of all life, but filled with this new energy: this 'force'?

    In the muffled silence, a new noise: Hoh!

    I know this noise.

    "Shinbira! Awake! You're in danger!"

    I know this voice.

    The mist around me clears, and I regather my senses. Turning around I see a Mer - yes, Faendal! - battling with a great undead warrior.

    A huge Draugr, armoured, and wielding a Greatsword more fearsome than any I've yet seen! 

    Faendal is dancing around him, shooting his arrows as fast as he can. Although stuck through like a great pin-cushion the Draugr still advances towards him and attacks, swinging his great sword. The arrows hardly even seem to slow him!

    I look at my hands and see that they still grasp my own Greatsword, ancient and Nordic, itself taken from a Draugr.

    I rise to my feet: mind and body flooded with this new 'force'. With a deafening battle-cry I charge at the undead horror, raising my sword as high and as far back as my arms will allow. I run, I swing, I connect! With a great thwack the monster is knocked back.

    But still he comes! That blow would have finished three normal Draugr!

    Feandal however is now emboldened and attacks with renewed vigour - with a Battleaxe. Together we gain the upper hand! Managing to dodge most of the monster's heavy blows, we poke, we thrust, we swing, we hit. The battle is long and hard, but at last the great Draugr staggers before us, badly wounded. With all my might I reach back and swing, and I hit! I strike hard right into his midriff, directly underneath his armour-plate: all but but cleaving him asunder! He falls, and moves no more.

    On his body I find and take not only his Greatsword - a weapon like mine, but enchanted with Frost Magic - but also the Dragonstone. 

    I have what I came here for - and more, much more! Exactly what? I do not know.

    Both exhausted, cut, bleeding and wounded, Faendal and I collapse onto the stone floor, leaning against the great altar, shivering.

    After some time, much food and drink, and many potions I recover my breath enough to speak.


    "Yes, brother?"

    "This altar we're leaning on. It's not an altar, is it?"

    "No, brother."

    "It's a tomb, isn't it? A very large tomb. For a very large Draugr." 

    "Yes, brother."

    "So why didn't you notice that? I was busy with the wall."

    "I did, at about the time the very large Draugr came out of it and tried to split me in two!

    "And what happened with you and that wall? I've never seen the like!"

    "I don't know, brother," is my honest reply, "but I think it's good."

    For me, at least...

    We sit again in silence, and time seems to stand still for us as we recover.

    Eventually Faendal again speaks: "So what now, Shinbira?" 

    "Well, 'my friend', " I reply with a smile, "there's no time like the present, is there?

    "....Archery training!"

    I understand Faendal being a little annoyed, but there was no need to whack me quite that hard...

    Table of Contents


  • Idesto
    Idesto   ·  July 9, 2015
    @Sotek The bruise is still there - the Bosmer went too far!
    @Edana Thanks. I enjoyed writing that too :)
    @ Lissette You haven't read the next chapter yet...
    Thanks all for reading, commenting & liking :D
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  July 8, 2015
    HAHA, so fun. I almost thought that Faendal would  meet his end. 
  • Edana
    Edana   ·  July 8, 2015
    I really like the way you described learning the word on the wall here and that you sort of "come to" after. 
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  July 8, 2015
    Archery training...'Thwack'  :)