Dragonborn Chapter 326: The Labour
This Bonus Chapter comes by Koi Hee Cheng… and Happy Ramadan!
Also, a big thanks to @Omnisiac10!
“Lady Azura greets you, Jonhild. Your Labours have begun.”
Jon’s head was short on circuits. What on Nirn did that crazy woman just say?
“Your Labours have begun.” Aranea Ienith said as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
The two of them were standing in the middle of the street while the passersby were walking past them. Jon still was having a blank second of his own to put his thoughts together.
“How? No, wait! I am… I am busy. Tell your goddess to wait. My brother, he is in trouble.”
Jon said and turned away leaving the Dark Elf priestess in the middle of the street but the next words she spoke made him halt his steps.
“And how are you planning to find him? In less than a day, your brother would be dead. You may reach the Reach in less than a day judging by your power but the Reach is too wide and very treacherous. Haven’t you thought why your enemies chose that place, in particular, to send you to your own death?” Aranea said.
Jon looked at her right in the eye.
“I see… your goddess is keeping tabs on the situation from above. Fine, but I can’t do the labour for your goddess and rescue my brother at the same time.”
“Lady Azura is merciful, young man. Up until now, she has shown nothing but mercy towards you unlike her usual. You are in luck but just like children, you have to be taught a lesson. Lady Azura would curse anyone who harms her brightest star you are going to be sent on a few labours. Rejoice.”
“Humph!” Jon could only snort with dissatisfaction.
Even if his nickname was ‘Dare’, there was not much he can do against an almighty Daedric Prince like Azura.
“So… your goddess is going to help me find my brother in exchange for the Labour?” Jon asked.
Aranea’s smile grew even wider.
“Even better, young Jonhild. Your Labour is about saving your brother.”
Jon’s expressions turned blank. He no longer could understand what Azura was doing here.
“You know what a Labour is, don’t you? You helped a Labourer once so you should know.”
Jon nodded. How could he forget Isha and what she told him about the Labours?
Labors are like sports for the Daedric Princes, they would ‘Sponsor’ certain mortals they favor for the sake of achieving some tasks in the Mortal World that may affect either the near future or the far future. The Daedric Lords would put their bets on these mortals by granting them artifacts and blessings. The Laborers are normally chosen from the ranks of the unfortunate and the ones who offended the Daedra somehow. Still, more than one Daedric Prince can wager on the same Laborer but the Laborer would still follow the wish of their ‘Sponsor Lord’.
This wasn’t all, in regards to the Laborer, there was nothing safe. Each Labour would always have some ending set in stone and the Laborer is forced on either [Lose], [Suffer] or [Be Lucky]. Failing a Labour wouldn’t change anything, it was also another ending and the rest of the labours would carry on.
The rules were cruel but fair. Still, to force the Laborers on the Labours, the Daedra would employ any mean necessary. Isha’s young brother was infected with some sort of disease, not by the Daedra but they have its cure and by Laboring, only can Isha get that cure.
Jon has a lot to lose. He has a big family, many friends and a hold. As he thought about it, his expressions turned into an angry frown.
“Why would you make that face, young Jonhild? Lady Azura favors you for sheltering her people under her shrine, among the Labors I have seen, you should be the luckiest. I mean… you have already finished a Labour and got away lucky.” Aranea said.
“What did you say? I have already finished Labour?”
“Yes, with the young spear maiden of [Bitter Mercy].”
“Wasn’t that Isha’s Labour?”
“And you labored together. Wasn’t your friend’s future and mind at stake back then? You survived the Mad God, how can that not be a Labour. Lady Azura is fair and just, young Jonhild.”
‘So it was like that!’ Jon was taken aback but he was not that upset. Still…
“Quit calling me ‘Young Jonhild’ in public. Does Azura even my true name? Dammit! Just tell me what Azura wants from me.” He said.
“Normally, a Laborer shouldn’t go on their Labour without a weapon. Not just any weapon but a weapon of a Daedric Origins.”
“I have three of those. Carry on.”
“Excuse me?” Aranea was finally taken aback for the first time.
“I have three Daedric Artifacts. [Skull of Corruption], [Wabbajack] and [Mehrunes’ Razor]. Would any of them work?” Jon asked with impatient.
“You have three?”
“Yeah, should your goddess at least know that?”
“Lady Azura knows all, I just wasn’t informed. Still, they won’t work. Limiting your option to a weapon you should wield is part of the trials and as long as Lady Azura gave me no order to direct you towards a weapon, then you are free to use any Daedric Artifact for now during the Labours. Depending on your actions, any Daedric Lord may decide to be a patron and grant you a proper weapon. As your [Prophet], I will inform you when the time comes.”
“That’s me. I will find you once you are done with this Labour. Jonhild, here is your Labour as Lady Azura directs me. You must go to a village surrounded by danger through its old name survived through the years. There, brothers unite and brothers separate.”
“… That’s it?”
“Azura’s signs are always cryptic. I am not sure where you should go but that’s all the clues you have, better than turning every stone in the reach, right?”
Jon made an annoyed face but he nodded in the end.
“So what should I expect?” He asked.
“I don’t know. If my foresight is accurate, then you are facing a horde of enemies with unrivaled animosity to anything that can be described as ‘Nord’ and you have to rescue what is likely a hostage.”
Jon was annoyed but he just sighed and replied.
“… I’ll do as Azura wishes.”
Jon turned around and left the woman in blue robes behind. Aranea merely shook her head and followed Azura’s direction to the next location where she should meet Jon.
In a building in Solitude, Jon and another man were speaking to each other with anger.
“I said I am a teacher at the College and I need it.”
“No means no. You are simply a scholar in your first year of service. Even the Arch-Mage doesn’t use that thing you are asking for this often.”
“I don’t care. I am in a hurry, dimwit.”
“No can do, Scholar Jon.”
The mage in charge of the Solitude’s College Residence didn’t allow Jon to use the emergency Teleportation Array. These Arrays are secret exclusive only to the senior members of the College and can’t be used by just anyone. They also link all the Major cities with the College. The Cost to use is 10 Grand Soul Gem, not any mage would afford the price but Jon had already forked out 20 of them.
“I am telling you, it’s no use. I can’t allow you to use them, so go away, I am sorry.” The mage said.
“Yeah, man. I am sorry too.”
Jon sneakily cast [Paralysis] on the man and bypassed him. After that, it didn’t take him a minute to figure out the place of the secret teleportation array and how does it work.
“Hang in there, Wulf.”
*20th of Sun’s Dusk, 4E 197 – One day earlier to the Assembly*
Wulfur and his apprentices bypassed Fort Sunguard that acts as a checkpoint between the Reach Hold and Whiterun Hold. Sure enough, the fort was occupied with Hold Guards and a patch of Legionaries.
‘Just like Jon foresaw. A war will start!’ Wulfur showed concern for the state of Skyrim but he had no head for complicated politics. Different than Jon, Wulfur was a truly 18 years old young man whose interests were all regarding his hobby and craft as well as the things that his brother designs.
A man of a simple character like Wulfur had grown to a potential even Jon couldn’t foresee. Wulfur was always the picky weapon master and smith whose mind can’t be made to use one weapon. He simply can use them all and that was his dilemma.
Rather than weapons and his brother and all the usual Wulfur stuff. Wulfur was the leader of a large patch of the company’s mercenaries. His group which was the heavy infantry is the largest group and he controls [Team 1] with the duty of managing the [Dare Arsnal]. Simply, Wulfur was Jon’s most trusted person and was the only person who can keep up with Jon’s weird impulses and even predict them.
If Jon was absent and someone asked ‘What would Jon do if he was here?’, Wulfur was the man to answer such a question.
Anyway, Wulfur’s party traveled on Atronach Horses and Bears which made the team look a bit magical from afar. The captain of Fort Sunguard also harassed them for such a thing but the badge of the [Dare Dragon Company] was enough to open any closed road.
As soon as the team entered the Reach Hold, they witnessed it nature that felt different than the rest of Skyrim. The Reach was a very rocky area and its flora and fauna were special. The Reach was it was a mix between the rocky High Rock, the green Cyrodiil and the desolate Skyrim.
Wulfur’s team didn’t have much trouble during the journey from the Fort Sunguard half the way to the first settlement on the way, Old Hroldan. As they were on the road between the two stops, the Reach suddenly become bore its fangs.
“Mountain Lions!” One of Wulfur apprentices shouted.
It was indeed those pesky unfriendly cougars that inhabit the south mountains. Maybe Jon would have been able to deal with them as they are felines but Jon was not here and these beasts were already at full hostility.
“Form a circle and kill them!” Wulfur gave the order and his team responded rather well. Their Atronach mounts were all powerful enough to scare wild beasts and kill them but the situation was off. Those mountain lions were hungry and seemed desperate to hunt.
“Let’s not take rests. Hurry to ‘Old Hroldan’.”
It was the right choice to do but the situation turned weirder and weirder. All sorts of beasts attacked the team. It started with cougars, wolves then a wild spriggan appeared and led some animals to attack the team. Still, none of that survived Wulfur’s hammer in the end.
What was unfortunate was the sight of other travelers getting killed. There were people other than Wulfur and his team on the road and some of them has met some sad endings.
Just as things quietened down for a while. A man appeared sitting on a large rock on the side of the road.
The man was short and seemed a bit of savage. His hair was shaved from the sides and tied on the top with a beard. He looked young though, maybe 25 or something.
“Hey.” He called for Wulfur and his men.
One of the apprentices of Wulfur came closer to him and whispered.
“Careful, Chief. That man seems to be a Reachman, a Foresworn!”
Wulfur looked back at the man who called them and replied.
“What do you want, friend?”
“Let me ask you, did your people survive those animals that attack people?” The man asked.
“More or less.”
“More or less? I see! A powerful group then, even the things you are riding look magical.” The man started evaluating.
“State your business or don’t bother us.” Wulfur said loudly.
“Hm? No need, my name is Alaric. I suppose that one of you is called… a weird Nord name… what is it again? Walfar, Wolfer…”
Wulfur narrowed his eyes. It seemed that his arrival at the Reach was expected.
“Well, I assume that’s you from the description.” The man called Alaric figured out who is Wulfur on his own.
Wulfur put his hand on his weapon.
Alaric smiled as he made sure his guess was correct.
“Capture him, kill the rest!”