Welcome to Part 8 of Tamriel Times: The Skyrim Diaries, our ongoing look at life in Tamriel (If you missed them, check out Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7). This time, we examine the bond between demon horse and rider.
Sitting at a table at the local tavern, you can find me tucked away in a back corner, where the light from the fire can’t find my face. Most people refuse to approach me, but one day, against the bartender’s advice, a young adventurer invited himself to a seat at the table.
“So what’s your story?” He asked brazenly.
What’s my story? Normally, I would have turned away such a bold question or given him a fist fight to remember, but he came bearing mead, and I was thirsty. As I mulled over my first gulp, the years I spent in Tamriel, all the people I’d met, and the innumerable adventures I had a hand in, all blurred into a mess of blood and pain. I didn’t like talking about my past, but this mead wasn’t free and I’d somehow already finished half of it.
“I’m a loner.” It seemed like the best way to start.
“What brought you to Dawnstar? Why are you alone?” He pressed.
I glared at him and he silenced. After a long quiet pause, I continued.
“I don’t like people. Companions were just a pain in my side, someone else to worry about, and I have enough baggage of my own to carry around. I preferred to see the reaches of Skyrim without a sidekick. I became hardier as a result, with more battle scars, something that helped keep the locals from engaging me in idle chitchat.
I was a murderer; the Dark Brotherhood’s lackey, fulfilling contracts as the lot of them sat on their asses gathering dust and growing rusty. Then everything went to shit. Some joker caught them all off guard and it was up to me to find him and exact revenge.
I dashed out of the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary eager to murder again, but out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the black pool at the entrance began bubbling. My heart caught in my throat, as a dark horse broke the surface, eyes glowing red like the glorious demon I would come to know her as. After that quest, my life would never be the same. Shadowmere was mine.
The other horses I had come to own in Skyrim were quite delicate. Leaving them alone in the wilderness for any length of time would usually warrant death, but not Shadowmere. She was a true companion, holding her own in battles against all enemies, from bandits to elder dragons, fighting loyally by my side.
Riding Shadowmere through the forests and snow covered hills, I saw more of Skyrim than I ever would have without her. We paused on top of hills, admiring the glorious landscape, we raced alongside rivers, chasing wild game. When I emerged from a dungeon, she was always there, waiting for me.
Then one day that all changed.
We were exploring the desolate mountains surrounding Winterhold, making our way to Dawnstar, when an ancient dragon rose up over the cliffs, spreading its wings and breathing pure energy down upon us. I released my own burst of energy, but it barely scathed this old creature.
I fought with arrows and magic, anything in my arsenal that would destroy this behemoth, but it was to no avail. The dragon swooped down for another go at us, and there was nowhere to hide. I only had the tiniest bit of life left in me, and no potions to speak of, just my regeneration magic, which had run out a long time ago.
Suddenly, I was falling. No longer in the dragon’s sights, I quickly took stock of the situation. Shadowmere had pushed me off the edge of the cliff. I don’t know how it happened, but before I realized I was falling, I had descended to a ledge far beneath the battle that was now being waged between the only creature I came to care about, and the mightiest beast I’d ever encountered.
Frantically climbing the mountain was an arduous process and I became exhausted quickly. I could hear Shadowmere whining in pain and the dragon continuing to roar down attacks. I cried out for her to hang on, prayed to Talos that she would be okay, but by the time I reached the summit, Shadowmere was nowhere to be found. The dragon, still perched on the cliff, had taken quite a few blows and was on its last leg. I released a massive fireball and it collapsed in defeat.
Scaling the snowy peaks, I searched for Shadowmere, but I couldn’t find her anywhere. After hours of scouring the hills, I decided to rest at Dawnstar and start looking again in the morning. Before I could get into town, I found her body. Hit hard by the dragon, she had come to rest at the base of the mountain.
I buried her outside of Dawnstar, created a pond so it would feel like home. After that, it just didn’t seem right to leave. It didn’t take an arrow to the knee to put me out of commission, just one horse. Legend said that Shadowmere would come back, even after death, but I knew it just wouldn’t be the same.”
Growing quiet myself, I lowered my eyes. I felt a hand on my back, as the adventurer stood up and left me to my grief.
The adventurer left the tavern and found the still black pond surrounded by quiet trees. He put a hand out to the water and could feel energy rising from the surface, but quickly pulled back out of respect for the dead. Standing up, he turned to walk away, and the pond began to bubble…
Stay tuned for the 9th and final part of Tamriel Times: The Skyrim Diaries!