To read the first part of Morgen’s Journal, original Skyrim fiction by screenwriter and film maker Andy Cull, please click here.
Morgen’s Journal, Part II
4E 201 17 Last Seed
It has been three weeks since that awful night. Much has changed.
That terrible night I lay on the sodden ground holding my poor Hodlin. I lay there until the sun began to rise. Once the Stormcloaks had left the crowd of villagers soon began to return to their houses. Not one offered to help me. I lay on the frozen ground praying to die, to be reunited with my Hodlin but death would not take me.
I do not know how I survived that freezing night but by the time the sun rose over the ashes of our once happy life I knew that there was only one thing left in this world for me.
I took a shovel from our stable and I dug a grave for my love behind our burned house. Hodlin’s bow, his labour of love, lay discarded on the frozen earth. I picked it up. I held it, felt its weight, its balance. I wrapped my hand around the grip that Hodlin had held only hours before. I could feel his pride, feel the love he had poured into the bow’s crafting. I swear that as long as I live Hodlin your bow will never leave my side.
Behind our home grows a single oak tree, as old as the village itself. For some reason when the rest of the trees around it were felled to build it was left untouched. Many an evening Hodlin and I had looked out at that old tree, the sun’s rays pouring through its branches as they danced on the evening breeze. I took Hodlin’s bow and I stood ten feet from the tree. I nocked a steel arrow and I drew the bowstring. I had never fired an arrow before. I released the bowstring.
From morning until night I drew Hodlin’s bow, until the string cut my fingers, until my blood mixed with my sweat and my anger. I wrapped my hands and I fired again. At first my shots were wide but after hours of practise I began to improve. I fired arrow after arrow. When I had none left I retrieved the ones that I could and I fired them again. It was only when I could no longer see the oak for the thick darkness that had consumed the village that I slung Hodlin’s bow onto my back sat down by Hodlin’s grave and waited.
At the very first sight of dawn, as the first light of day began to draw across the valley, I left the village for the forest. I knew that it was one thing to be able to hit a tree but another altogether to be able to hit a moving target. My hands were raw from the previous day but I felt no pain. I did not feel anything anymore.
I was clumsy, I moved too fast and too loudly. I spooked my prey at every turn. Oh, Hodlin how did you ever manage to hunt anything? I took off my shoes and slowly, as the day drew on, I began to find I could draw a little closer before the deer or rabbit that I stalked bolted. That night I returned to Hodlin’s grave and sat and waited once more.
The next day something had changed. Moving through the forest did not take quite as much effort. It seemed as if a silence had descended where before I could only hear myself. Now, I began to be able to hear the forest around me. In the distance I could hear a bear kicking up leaves, calling a warning, a deer snapping branches close by, I could hear the twisting and sighing of the trees as the wind barged its way through the woods. It was as if the forest had come to life around me.
I tracked a family of deer through the woods. Keeping my distance I watched bears hunting, watched them feed their young with the kill. At sunset, for the first time in a whole day, I nocked an arrow and was ready. I had been following the sabre cat for over two hours. I still have no idea why I decided upon such a beast for my first kill. If something went wrong I would surely die. Maybe without realising that was my hope.
The cat had stopped to feed, tearing at the corpse of a fox that it had snared. I took aim, my breathing slow, I focussed on its neck. I drew the bowstring taught and, at the last minute, just as I was about to release the sabre cat’s head snapped around to look right at me. I froze. It growled. The remains of the fox dropping from its bloody mouth as it let out a vicious roar.
And then it fell silent. My arrow tore into its open mouth, ripping through the flesh of its throat from the inside. The sabre cat coughed, choking on the blood from the torn artery in its neck, and fell clawing at its throat onto the forest floor. In less than a minute it had stopped moving. I stood over the beast. I knew now that I was ready.
That night I did not sit by Hodlin’s grave. I returned to the remains of our house as the last light drained from the day and said goodbye to my love. I knew that I would never return to this place again. In the near dark I made a promise, a promise to the only man I will ever love. A promise that I will keep or die attempting to fulfil.
That night I returned to the forest, I went to the vantage point that I had found earlier in the day and I waited. Around midnight I saw a torch on the edge of the forest. It was quickly extinguished but I had been sitting in the darkness for several hours, I could see them even if they stumbled through the dark forest unable to see themselves.
Godrel Storearm, the fat cuckold, and the tavern wench stumbled through the woods until they thought they were far enough away from the village to no longer be heard. There had been whispers in the village that he came here with the women whose company he bought with a fat coin purse.
Stonearm was eager but the tavern wench was not so sure and after the briefest of encounters stumbled back the way she had come with Godrel hurling abuse after her. My first arrow pinned his arm to the tree behind it. Godrel cried out but now the very reason he had chosen this spot had turned against him. No one from the village would be able to hear his cries.
And he cried. He cried and he screamed and, just before I fired the arrow that silenced his evil tongue forever, I let him see my face. I told him, “Your words killed my Hodlin, as sure as if you had held the blade yourself. Now you will never speak a word again.” I released the bowstring.
I left Godrel where he died. I did not want to touch him and he did not deserve a burial. I took his coin purse and left my village, our home, forever.
After two weeks of fruitless searching a chance encounter with a Stormcloak courier has brought me here, to Dragon Bridge. I was able, with more mead than I have ever seen one man drink, to uncover that there is a Stormcloak camp nearby. I could not get an exact location for fear of raising suspicions so here I find myself at The Four Shields Tavern ready to make enquiries.
Rest assured my blue eyed Commander, I will find you. As sure as day follows night I will hunt you through the whole of this land if that is what it takes. My name is Morgen. I am Morgen the Unbroken and you should have killed me when you had the chance.
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Andy Cull is the writer and director of The Possession Of David O'Reilly (UK title The Torment) and In The Dark (www.louisepaxton.co.uk). He's currently writing his first novel and a new horror feature.