An Elder Scrolls fan-fiction. An Ashlander tribe unable to pay its debts is evicted from its land, but its leaders escape a massacre and lead the tribe to safety. Then, they invade Cyrodiil. Can Ashina hold the tribe together against an empire as she mounts an insurgency in an attempt to regain her former homeland, or will the internal rivalries and family factions tear it apart?

A dusky young soldier sprinted through the river, discarding his helmet into the shallow water. He clambered over the rocks, jumping from one to the other as he frantically crawled his way across the ford. His pursuers flickered about along the narrow mountain paths, their calls echoing in the hills high above him. The bushes shivered in the wind, or through the shifting around of marksmen. The hillside lit up with seemingly a thousand fires as they lit the tips of their arrows, and, sure enough, a rain of arrows descended on the unfortunate soldier. Most of them fell harmlessly in the water and fizzled out, but others clattered on the rocks behind him.

He dived for the shortline, and darted off up a narrow valley, whose overhanging cliffs offered him some protection from above. His pursuers erupted into a raging argument, with calls and yells rebounding across the hilltops, and then fell silent. But they were experts in climbing about on rock-faces that other men would find impossible, and they would doubtless be upon him the second he stopped to rest. So he did not. He continued, dragging himself up the ever-increasing incline as valley gave way to rock-face. The solid earth turned to loose rocks which collapsed under his feet. His armour weighed him down, so he abandoned it; the mass-production steel of the Imperial Legion would not be of much use to him if he was shot with one of the arrows. He buried his sword in the ash, and started to climb. One foot above the other, he frantically clambered higher and higher as the rock-face became steeper and steeper, and was soon scaling a vertical cliff, pulling at tree trunks and the remains of animals that were trapped in the sediment.

He heard the shouts of the Ashlanders in the distance. There were more of them; they'd regrouped. There were sentries high above him, peering cautiously over the cliff-edge. A horde of them had gathered below him, searching in the bushes and in the caves for any sign of the Imperial. But, even though they'd lit torches and burned the grass, they could not find him. Some of them abandoned the chase; they gave their arms to their tribesmen and trickled away into the distance. Most stayed, for a while, but it was now dark, and they would presumably not find him as long as he maintained the casual pace that he'd become accustomed to since they'd lost sight of him. Eventually, by the time he grabbed the edge of the cliff and clambered up onto the summit, there were nothing but a few lone sentries occupying their positions on the ledges.

He turned around, and gazed back at his path. The platoon had been massacred more than a day ago. Since then he'd been tracked by the Ashlanders day and night, their hunters always on his tail. As far as he knew, the other members of the platoon that made it out of the tent had escaped, and were presumably back on the ship to Skyrim. He'd been joing them soon, he told himself, once he'd escaped the Ashlanders. Having given his opponents the slip, he'd now be free to return to camaraderie and drinking in the warmth of a mountain barracks. For once, he wouldn't need to exaggerate the numbers; there were thousands of tribesmen out there, and he, a single recruit, had managed to outwin the lot of them. Now he'd done that, it was plain sailing.

A hand wrapped around his neck, and tilted his head back. There was a flash of steel before his eyes, and, before he felt the pain of being stabbed, he found himself hurtling towards the earth.

The End

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