Re: Mafia 37: The Battle for Whiterun
In the year 201 of the 4th Era, the territory of Skyrim began a descent into political turmoil. The High King of Skyrim, King Torygg, was killed in a duel with Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of the city of Windhelm. Nord tradition holds that in the event that the title of High King is left unfilled, the Jarls from the nine Holds in Skyrim join in a gathering known as the Moot, in which they elect a new High King.
But these are not normal times, and the stakes in Skyrim's election have rarely been higher. In 175, after a lengthy war, the Empire of Cyrodiil accepted surrender terms to the Elven Thalmor Dominion. Among its terms for surrender, the Emperor of Cyrodiil agreed that the people in its nation would ban worship of the god Talos within the polytheist pantheon of Gods worshipped by its citizens, including the people of Skyrim.
Since then, many citizens of Skyrim, led by Ulfric Stormcloak, have begun to take arms in protest of the peace agreement. Unwilling to accept the erasing of core religious beliefs, Ulfric began his push to replace High King Torygg as High King of Skyrim. Following the duel with Torygg, Ulfric began vying for the position of High King.
Unwilling to accept allowing Skyrim to break its tenuous peace agreement with the Thalmor, Cyrodiil began its own political venturing into Skyrim. Meanwhile, Cyrodiil pushed its support behind King Torygg's wife, Queen Elisif of Solitude, in an effort to rally the Nords behind a ruler who would be ameniable to the Empire's objectives.
Of the nine holds to vote in the Moot, both Jarl Elisif and Jarl Stormcloak have so far each received their pledged support from four holds. Only one Jarl, Jarl Balgruuf of Whiterun, has hesitated to voice his support for either side in the campaign. As the time until the Moot draws near, both the Stormcloak rebels and the Imperial Legion have grown anxious and impatient to discover the fate of Skyrim. Unless the scales are tipped toward one side, the fate of Skyrim may rest in the hands of one man.
Meanwhile, the quaint Gray-Mane home was abuzz with activity, as the Gray-Mane family listen to another family squabble. Eorlund Gray-Mane had long attempted to quell the Gray-Mane call for action against the Battle-Born clan. Eorlund had already lost one son in the Stormcloak Rebellion. He didn't want to risk losing another.
"We still aren't even sure who Balgruuf is supporting for High King. He could still support Ulfric. You could be risking the lives of your family members in vain!"
The Gray-Mane family had long felt shamed by the Empire's peace accord with the Thalmor Dominion. When Ulfric Stormcloak first manifested, the Gray-Mane relations with their former Battle-Born comrades had long fallen apart. Though not as rich a family as the Battle-Born clan, the Gray-Manes were still well-respected in Whiterun, despite their fervent support for the Stormcloaks. Although they had never taken overt violent action within Whiterun in support of the Stormcloaks, the growing ferocity of violence outside Whiterun made the call for violence inside House Gray-Mane louder by the day.
"No, we know about it." Avulstein Gray-mane, son of Eorlund Gray-Mane, retorted. "I have... a contact... who's informed me that Balgruuf hasn't been completely honest. He's playing us for fools, Father... biding his time so he can cast a vote for the Empire without having to answer to us. Every other Jarl has voiced their support one way or another. The fate of Skyrim rests in his hands, and he's holding off. He's either a traitor or a coward."
"Or perhaps he simply hasn't decided yet. The wise are sometimes not so quick to come to a conclusion."
"Then perhaps it's time to make him decide."
"We still have his ear. Given enough talk and enough time-"
"No! No more counsels, Father! We've prayed and delayed long enough as it is! The Empire's bound to bring more troops into Skyrim, not only to deal with Ulfric, but with the recent dragon attacks. Every moment we wait is another moment the Empire can muster more troops, all the while Jarl Blagruuf plays us for fools!"
"Even if so... why like this? This isn't our way. This isn't the Nord way. We're honorable warriors!"
"Is it the Nord way to reject Talos? Is it the Nord way to bow to the whims of the Thalmor? I don't like it as much as you do, father... but we're not exactly in a position to march into Dragonsreach and challenge Balgruuf to a duel. Sitting in Whiterun waiting isn't going to help. This is the only way."
Eorlund paused for a moment. He knew his son had the right intentions at heart, though he was so head-strong in his ways.
However, the type of war they were about to endeavor in had been foreign to the Nords. Nord warriors, incluing Ulfric himself, had long favored open, honorable combat. Quiet elimination of enemies during their sleep wasn't simply wrong... it would forever be a stain on the honor of the Gray-Mane family, a family which had long been held in such high prestige throughout all of Skyrim. He knew that crossing into this path may forever erase the image of the Gray-Manes as the crafters of the best steel in Skyrim, replaced only by the memories of the bloodshed caused here. Even if they succeeded, Ulfric may still have found their activities reprehensible. No matter who won... the Gray-Manes would lose.
Still, he thought... perhaps the Gray-Manes were insignificant in the greater good. This conflict was more than simply a feud between two families. The fate of Skyrim was in their hands. A family name could be a small price to pay to save the Nord people from the Thalmor's subjugation.
"Fine... we will do what we must... for Skyrim. May Talos protect us."
"My Jarl, I come to seek another audience with you."
As the head of the wealthy Battle-Born family, Olfrid's family had long been staunch supporters of Cyrodiil's empire. With the Empire's dire needs in Skyrim, the Battle-Born family became anxious to ensure that the Empire remained unified, doing what they could to shore up support in its military endeavors against Ulfric Stormcloak and his rebels. And that meant frequent consultations with their local ruler, Jarl Balgruff of Whiterun.
Jarl Balgruuf had long grown impatient with Olfrid. "If you're here for what I think, you can save your breath, Olfrid."
"We're far past the time for indecision. While you wait to come to a decision, Ulfric is preparing to take matters into his own hands."
"I've heard your pleas, Olfrid. They don't fall on deaf ears. But even if I agreed with you, publicly voicing my support would do nothing but force the losing faction into desperation."
"Ulfric only needs one more Jarl to be declared High King. All he has to do is replace one Jarl, and Skyrim's fate will be sealed. And it will be on your head."
"For the last time, I will not provoke a war that will plunge Skyrim into darkness. When the Moot meets, my voice will be heard. A new High King will be elected, and we will be able to move on. Skyrim can wait until then."
"If you think Ulfric or the Empire will simply walk away because of some silly vote, you're as naive as the Gray-Manes!"
"Enough! This audience is finished."
Olfrid bowed, then turned and left Dragonsreach. As he left, Balgruuf turned to his steward, Provencius.
"How long must we wait until the Moot finally convenes? I can't hold this tide back forever."
"If we provoke Ulfric by announcing our position in advance, the Moot will make little difference."
Jarl Balgruuf let out a sigh as he continued to wait for the coming storm.
Deep in an underground cavern near the Hold of Falkreath, the Dark Brotherhood was quietly at work on their own machinations. Having a time-honored tradition of performing contracted assassinations, the Dark Brotherhood could often be found somewhere when political turmoil existed in Tamriel. Hundreds of years ago, the Dark Brotherhood was at the pinnacle of its fame, having formerly killed an Emperor.
Today, their call to shape the world comes once again, as a young woman in red and black leather passed through the doors barricading the cavern entrance, entering a large room surrounded with shelves, supplies, and uniforms. In the center of the room, a small girl wearing a blue dress leaped from a chair, running toward her friend.
"Astrid! Welcome back! How was the meeting with the new client?"
"Very... interesting. He had a rather... unique job for us. Well paying, of course... but a challenge."
"Oh? A challenge, you say?"
"You're aware that the Moot is meeting soon to elect the new High King, of course."
"Of course I'm aware... Does anyone in Skyrim talk of anything else? Always politics... it's frankly all become a bit of a bore..."
"Yes, dear. However, if we're successful in this job, this one may be slightly more interesting."
"Skyrim has 9 holds voting in the Moot. Currently, 4 votes are supporting Ulfric, and 4 supporting Elysif... leaving only Whiterun undecided. Our client... doesn't want Whiterun voting."
"If Whiterun has some recognized ruler to go to the Moot, somebody can be declared High King of Skyrim. Our employers... don't want that. Our employers like Skryim fighting amongst itself... so they don't have to march into Skyrim on their own."
"And how, exactly, did you suggest we proceed to wipe out a town's population without getting noticed?"
Astrid smiled coyly. "Well, since you mention it... we do need someone who would be able to be in a town... possibly for a few days... in the open... without arousing suspicion."
The little girl batted her eyes a few times. "Oh, but what could I possibly do to hurt any of those nice people in that town? I'm just a little lost girl!"
Astrid smiled, and began to turn away. "Enjoy yourself!"
The little girl briefly straightened her hair, then brushed off the dirt on her dress. Relatively presentable, she then turned to the cavern entrance, and left where Astrid entered the chamber.
The Great Eye is watching you... when there's nothing good on TV...