I found a journal....

I found something rather interesting recently, and after much thought I've decided to share publicly. I was shopping in Winterhold over the weekend, and I noticed a small shop named "Birna's Oddments." I like to look for interesting items, so a place that sells "oddments" seemed right up my alley. I stopped in to look around, and I came across a worn journal. Upon inspection it appeared to be the journal of an Imperial soldier. I quickly thumbed through the book to see if anything jumped out at me, and I came across the most startling image. It was a very detailed painting, and it had text that accompanied it. I am so intrigued by this story that I plan on doing some research, and I will share what I find tomorrow. For now, here is the text and painting from the journal.

I'm still having trouble sleeping. It's been three weeks since that fateful day, yet it feels like it just happened. The events of that morning will forever be burned in my mind.

I was stationed at a small fort in a remote part of the mountains. Our job was to protect a bridge that spanned a nearby valley. My unit was sent on an early morning patrol to investigate some local gossip. A few travelers had reported hearing loud noises echoing through the valley over the past few days. None of the folks reported seeing any troops, but my commander was convinced that it was the Stormcloaks moving into a position to assault our outpost.

We were wandering down a known trail that led to a small community located at the top of one of the mountains. Despite a lack of clouds, snow began to fall around us. As we drew closer to the village, something started to feel out of place. I couldn't quite figure out what it was at the time, but I now realize it was the lack of noise. The normal sounds of the villagers at work was missing. The air was filled with an ambient flickering, but was otherwise silent. It wasn't until our patrol reached the mountaintop that we realized it wasn't snowing at all. The precipitation was dry. White ash floated around us and covered the ground. The ash was coming from where the village once stood. In its place, only flaming ruins remained.

Our commander thought it was the work of the Stormcloaks, and ordered us to investigate. After a thorough search, everyone came together to report their findings. No signs of our enemies could be found in the aftermath of whatever had taken place. Soldiers stood around the blaze, not knowing what to think. As we waited for our next set of orders, the sky darkened. The wind picked up. A storm was coming, and it was coming on wings.

Before anyone could react, a nightmare landed before us. The weight of the beast as it fell to the ground shook the earth beneath us. The following roar shook our very souls. Before our commander could even give an order, my eyes were blinded as if I were looking into the white hot sun. A sudden wave of heat flashed in front of me, as if I had stepped too close to a forge. Reflexes beyond my control caused me to back up, and in my blindness I tripped over a stone jutting from the earth. I could hear screams of terror all around me. Finally, my eyes adjusted just in time to see what can not be unseen.

A dragon, larger than anything I had ever dreamed of, opened its maw and spoke the language of hell. Fire engulfed my brothers in arms. Part of our patrol gathered behind the beast and formed a phalanx to protect themselves. Shields were raised, and orders were given. Paralyzed with fear, I watched as the others prepared to fight the monster. None of their defenses held against the creature. With the swipe of its massive tail, shields were smashed and bodies were broken. Someone charged the dragon in an effort to impale its underbelly. Their efforts were rewarded with teeth. A few more tried to resist, which only enraged it further.

It wasn't until a comrade ran past me that my paralysis seemed to fade. I forced myself to run after him. I tried to tell myself that I was running to check on his well being, but in truth it was simply cowardice. There was no stopping the carnage on that mountain. I fled, and somehow I made it out alive.

I sometimes wonder whether or not surviving was better than meeting a heroic end. I cannot escape these memories. The images are there every time I close my eyes. I can hear the screams of my friends on soundless nights. I can feel my legs quiver every time the sky darkens. Not even my artistry brings me solace anymore. Every time I paint, I can only think of one subject for my art.