4E 203 – War

Tara studied the Imperial Legion soldiers from her perch above them, on Solitude’s walls.

Perhaps the best thing about her home was its location along the city walls. Few buildings had an entry point along the top of the walls. She’d only seen guard towers and a few into Castle Dour, the castle the Imperial Legion was stationed in. As for the Blue Palace, the palace was far taller than the walls there and Tara had not seen any doorways in. Guards patrolled heavily and the one time she’d walked along the palace, they’d hurried her away. Guards patrolled the entire wall system constantly. Rarely did any other citizen walk up here. Tara had both quiet and a sense of safety. She marveled that Katla had the chance to buy the place.

Castle Dour sat on the western side of Solitude, halfway across the city from her house. The castle had a huge walled courtyard with Solitude banners hanging throughout. She was surprised they’d not been exchanged for the Empire’s distinct dragon symbol ones. Targets for archery and various melee weapons dotted the yard. A large fire pit, constantly lit, was surrounded by sitting benches, in the center of the cobblestone yard. Entry to the Temple of the Divines, and the Thalmor headquarters, could be accessed from here.

For having a diplomatic headquarters here, Tara hadn’t seen many Thalmor. In the city, she’d seen plenty of High elves, but Thalmor agents, the actual military branch of the Dominion, their government, were few. Tara wondered how much pressure the Emperor, or Jarl Elsif, who now ruled Solitude, had put on them to keep their numbers low.

Solitude was Imperial, dedicated to the Empire, in attitude. That did not indicate any love for the Thalmor, though. Why the Stormcloaks didn’t understand that was beyond Tara. No one liked the signing of the White-Gold Concordat, and the resulting banning of Talos worship, that had ended the Great War.

Tara pressed her hand against her leather armor and felt Freta’s Talos amulet underneath. She’d never take it off. Not for Katla, and certainly not for these elves. One just had to know how to hide it. Besides, she didn’t worship Talos, so would never lie if asked. Freta was why she wore it. Freta was who mattered.

Find a new purpose, so you don’t fail the other.

Damn Stormcloaks, she thought.

She’d done her best to ignore the politics going on in Skyrim, but these last few days in Solitude had brought it back to the forefront for her. Garrisons of Imperial soldiers came and went constantly. She’d watched injured soldiers being treated non-stop.

The civil war was in full swing in Skyrim. Traveling with Katla, they’d managed to avoid any skirmishes between the Stormcloaks and Imperial Legion.

They’d seen the ruins of battles, though. Damaged forts, but, mostly, sadly, the random field that held burnt out carts, dead horses, and unburied dead, waiting for priests to arrive and perform rituals. Like seeing the occasional dragon off in the distance, she and Katla hadn’t discussed it much, and had kept themselves focused on avoiding assassins and necromancers.

Tara shifted her stance and watched the archers practicing below. Their captain, she hadn’t caught his name, barked orders and corrections. Two of the three archers were a good shot, but the third one, well, Tara hoped he was better with a sword.

Was she really going to do this?

Was this her purpose? Was this why she was really in Solitude?

Find a new purpose.

Last night, drinking in the Winking Skeever, had brought her the complete story of Ulfric Stomrcloak’s killing of High King Torygg, and the later execution of Roggvir, the gate guard on duty who’d let Ulfric escape the city. The killing of Skyrim’s High King, the leader of this province, who answered only to the Emporer, Titus Mede II, had shaken Solitude and Skyrim itself.

Even now, they hadn’t yet chosen Jarl Elsif, Torygg’s widow, to become High Queen. Several holds now supported Ulfric and wanted him selected as High King.

Tara thought of her time in Windhelm and the utter contempt the people there had for anyone not a Nord. Neither she nor Katla had liked the place. If that was how Ulfric ran a city, well, Tara had already known which side she was on. Windhelm had only reinforced it.

Was she really going to do this?

She shifted her gaze to the soldiers practicing their sword work. They seemed capable enough. Was Tara up to their skill level yet? With an axe, she was superior. She could see it in their footwork, which seemed slow and sloppy to her.

With a sword, though? When was the last time she’d used a sword? The Fighter’s Guild, three years ago?

Find a new purpose, so you don’t fail the other.

In her bones, this felt right. More training, more structure. A purpose. She could help people again. Travel Skyrim, too, with some authority. That alone could help her find more necromancers to wipe out.

Did she want to fight in a war? No. One could argue it wasn’t even her fight. Skyrim wasn’t her province, her home.

It was Katla’s, though. And Freta’s.

Tara shifted her feet again. She turned her gaze to the Blue Palace, its glass dome shining in the afternoon light.

High Rock was where she was from. Skyrim was where she wanted to be. With Katla by her side. Since meeting Freta, and first learning about Nords and their culture, this felt more real. More fitting.

The political games here were not the games of High Rock or Cyrodiil. Here, you eventually fought it out. Here, nature was closer. Your status was based on your deeds. Here, the land needed you to work it to succeed.

She needed to fight for Skyrim. And whether some Nords knew it or not, fighting for Skyrim was fighting in the Imperial Legion. Stopping these so-called rebels from destroying the honor of Nords, and weakening the Empire right before the Thalmor’s eyes, who must be gleefully watching the troubles.

This was her new purpose.

Tara headed down from the wall, to Castle Dour, to join the Legion.

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