Revak and the others watched as the great black dragon flew East over the mountains and out of sight. "There he goes, looks like he's gone for good this time," Revak said as the dragon disappeared.
Revak stood, taking the moment to check their surroundings, making sure they were alone, "No way to know if anyone else made it out alive, huh?" he said softly.
Ralof shook his head, "No, and this place is going to be swarming with Imperials soon enough."
"Ralof, you and I need to return to Windhelm," Sigrid said as she stood, offering her hand to Ralof, "We have to return to the Stormcloaks," Ralof took her arm and she pulled him to his feet, "they need to know what happened."
"Of course, " Ralof agreed, "we'll stop in Riverwood first. My sister, Gerdur, runs the mill. We can get some supplies then head to Windhelm."
He turned to Revak, "I know you're not a Stormcloak, but you're welcome to join us to Riverwood. I'm sure my sister would help you as well."
Revak nodded in thanks and followed the Stormcloaks down the path, then to the road to Riverwood.
They reached the village before the sun set. The village's small stone wall greeted them. For the first time since before he could remember Revak felt safe. The town was quiet. Its few residents already returning home for their evening meals or to the tavern to relax. It was a quaint little place, chickens roamed freely, as well as dogs, and a few cattle in their pens. The sound of the River and mill were omnipresent, and the constant rushing sound of the river was relaxing in a way. Ralof lay a hand on Revak's shoulder, "Welcome to my home, my friend, " he said. He pointed toward the mill, "Let's find my sister, she should be somewhere around the mill."
Then he headed toward the mill, Sigrid and Revak followed in tow. "Gerdur!" Ralof called as they made their way to the opposite side of the mill. A young Nord woman with light hair appeared from behind the lumber yard, she saw Ralof and her face lit with a smile. She ran to Ralof and hugged him, tears threatening to fall from her eyes, "Brother! Mara's mercy! It's good to see you." She pulled away, "But is it safe for you here? I heard that Ulfric had been captured!
Ralof smiled, "Don't worry Gerdur, I'm safe, at least I am now."
"What happened?" Gerdur stepped back and seemed to finally notice Sigrid and Revak, "and who's this?" she said as she looked them from head to toe taking in their haggard appearance.
"These are my friends," Ralof said. He pointed to Sigrid, "This is my comrade and fellow Stormcloak, Sigrid," Sigrid nodded, "and my friend Revakaaal."
"Welcome," Gerdur smiled. "Any friend of my brothers' is a friend of mine."
"Thank you," Revak nodded, "your welcome is much appreciated."
"Your accent," Gerdur said, eyeing Revak suspiciously, "it's different. Where are you from?"
"I'm from Cyrodiil, "Revak said calmly. He took note that he'd have to adjust his speech during his time in Skyrim.
"Really?" she said, taken aback, "Cyrodiil? And you're friends with Stormcloaks?"
"Not everyone in Cyrodiil supports what the Empire's done," Revak smiled softly. "Besides, I'm a Nord."
She nodded in agreement, "Well then," she looked at the three, "you three look like you have quite the tale to tell."
Sigrid laughed, "You don't know the half of it."
Ralof pulled Gerdur aside, "Is there somewhere we can talk? No telling if the news of Helgen has reached the Imperials."
"Helgen?" she said, shocked, "Has something happened?" She looked at the three, when none were forthcoming she stepped back, "You're right, follow me. Just one moment," then she turned and called out, "Hod!" she shouted.
A large Nord man stepped out from beside the lumber mill, "What is it woman? Sten drunk on the job again?"
"Hod, just come here," she said sharply. Without another word she led him to the group. Hod's eyes grew wide when he saw Ralof.
"Ralof!" he said, shocked, "What are you doing here!" Gerdur motioned for silence. Without another word she led them to an outcropping near the side of her mill, where the sound of their voices would be drowned by the sound of the river and the mill.
Once they were safe Hod turned to Ralof and embraced his brother-in-law roughly, "Now, Ralof, what's going on? You three look pretty well done in."
Ralof sighed and took a seat on large rock nearby, "I can't remember when I last slept..." Then Ralof began his tale, how his Stormcloak caravan had been ambushed by Imperial soldiers, how they'd been taking captive. Every now and then Sigrid would add to the story, but Revak remained silent. He simply didn't remember this ambush, or how he'd gotten to be in the middle of it. Everything since Sancre Tor had been a blur. Finally Ralof reached the attack at Helgen, "They had us lined up at the headsman's' block, all ready to start chopping-"
"Those cowards!" Gerdur interrupted.
"They wouldn't dare give Ulfric a fair trial," Ralof continued patiently, "Treason! For fighting for your own country! All of Skyrim would have seen the truth then, but then, out of nowhere, a dragon attacked."
Gerdur shook at the word 'dragon', "You can't be serious, a dragon?"
"I can hardly believe it myself," Ralof confirmed, much to Gerdur's apparent dismay.
"As strange as it sounds," Sigrid said calmly, "we'd all be dead if that dragon hadn't attacked when it did. In the chaos we managed to slip away."
"Are we the first to make it to Riverwood?" Revak asked softly, fearing the answer.
Gerdur shook her head, "No one else has come up the South road today." Revak's heart sank.
Sigrid stepped forward, "We need to lay low, maybe some supplies for the trip back to Windhelm."
"You all are welcome to stay with us as long as you need to," Gerdur said with a smile, "and are free to take any supplies you need."
Ralof stood and hugged his sister, "Thank you, Gerdur."
With that Hod and Gerdur lead them to their home. It was a nice place, small and simple, yet it was also the largest house in the small town, there was plenty of room for all of them. They were given bed rolls while Gerdur prepared the evening meal. The smell of cooked beef made Revak's mouth water. He felt like he hadn't eaten in a thousand years, then he laughed to himself when he realized that was probably true. Over dinner they discussed their travel plans, "Let's stay the night, then we can make the journey to Windhelm tomorrow," Sigrid suggested.
"And what of you Revak?" Ralof asked as he opened a new beer, "You're not a Stormcloak, so you don't have to go back to Windhelm."
Revak stared at his plate, that he wasn't sure of. He knew his ultimate goal, defeat Alduin, but something like that hardly came with a manual. Where do I even start!
He thought, still staring at his beans like they would tell him all the answers.
There were no Blades to take to his side anymore, and it wasn't like the Greybeards were ever interested in hunting dragons. If he'd returned as a full god he'd simply approach Alduin. As it was, Revak wasn't Talos Stormcrown, he was Revakaal. His powers dropped significantly when he volunteered to return to Nirn. Something Akatosh warned him about before he returned. Perhaps I was too hasty in volunteering to return
, he thought."I'm not sure; I suppose I am curious as to what's going to be done about this dragon."
He was surprised when Gerdur smiled at him, "I thought you'd be. Look, I know you don't know us very well, but we need your help." Revak motioned for her to continue, "Riverwood doesn't have a standing guard force. We used to have a few guards from Whiterun, but they were forced to leave because of the Civil War. Whiterun needed all of its guards in case of an attack. But now, with these dragons, Riverwood is in danger." She took a breath, "Would you be willing to go to Whiterun tomorrow and request the Jarl return those soldiers to Riverwood."
"Of course," Revak agreed, "I will journey to Whiterun in the morning."
Gerdur smiled, "Thank you, Revak, you don't know how much this means to us, to Riverwood."
"It's no trouble at all. I'm glad to help."
At that they finished their meal and prepared to sleep for the night.
* * * * * * * * *
Once everyone was asleep Revak opened his eyes. Slowly, he stood, keeping sure that Ralof and the others were soundly asleep. Revak gathered his things and, sneaking, he made his way to the door and slowly opened it and made his way outside. The cold night air bit his face as he made his way around the house and into the woods.
He walked for a time until he reached a clearing. Revak placed his things on the forest floor and stood in the center of the clearing. He gathered some sticks and bark and piled them in the center of the forest. He knelt down in front of the wood pile, and then focused on his inner life force. The magicka within, and using a flame spell his lit the pile, creating a small fire.
Revak sat before the fire, listening the cracks and pops of the flames. Reverently, Revak opened his pack and removed a sweet roll, "For the Divines," he said as he dropped it into the fire. Greedily the flames ate away at the pastry. This was an old custom, giving sacrifices to the Divines, very old in fact it was old when Revak was a young man named Hjalti living in Skyrim. That was before he was even given the name Talos.
"Akatosh," he prayed, "guide me."
He closed his eyes tightly, hoping, praying, that the great dragon would somehow show himself and help him. Instead, the fire glowed softly and the air smelled faintly of burnt cinnamon. He was about to give up when suddenly there was a flash of light around him.
Blinking, Revak found himself in a world of white. He stood, taking in the environment around him. He noticed he was wearing his divine Imperial Dragon armor, "Where am I?"
"No place in particular," said a deep voice behind him, Revak jumped and turned around, and found himself face to face with an old man in gold robes.
"Akatosh?" Revak said.
The old man nodded, "Yes." He smiled, "You always knew I had a weak spot for sweets."
Revak returned the smile as Akatosh motioned for Revak to walk with him, "What is it that you needed?"
"A briefing would be nice," Revak said harshly.
Akatosh stopped, "Sadly there is no briefing for this." Akatosh saw Revak's confused expression and continued, "This wasn't supposed to happen. When the heroes of old sent Alduin out of time they actually sent him forward. He was supposed to destroy a different world. Now time is out of balance."
"You're saying if they hadn't have done that Alduin would have succeeded in the past, meaning there'd be a different pastů present," Revak concluded.
"Exactly, Alduin was doing his duty, but now he is filled with revenge. This isn't the world he was meant to destroy anymore. There is no simple way to defeat him."
"But the old ones did," Revak said as the idea brewed in his head, "they stopped him long enough to send him forward in time."
Akatosh smiled, "Exactly."
"So I need to figure out how they did it in the past."
"How do I do that?"
"I can't help you more than I already have. The others will be watching," Akatosh said quickly, "And our time here is nearing an end. Good luck Tiber Septim."