The Ship of Ice

Author: Kjalsdottir (Transcriber)
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A tale told by the sailors of Winterhold and transcribed by Kjalsdottir.

Long ago in the time of our grandfathers’ grandfathers, a ship came out of the north. The days were bright, for this was in Middle Yarr, when the sun rides highest in the sky. Yet the ship was covered in rime, and its frost-covered sails sagged under the weight of the ice. Winterhold’s folk fell silent as the ship of ice steered slowly to the quay.

A jarl named Kjalhund happened to be close at hand and hailed the newcomer. “Who are you, and from where do you come?” he called.

“We are those who mourn,” came the steersman’s reply, “and out of death we have sailed. We beg you for fire, for salt, for bread. Will you take us in?”

Now, many who stood near urged Kjalhund to turn them away, for they could see frozen corpses at the oars of the ice-ship. Yet Kjalhund saw that some still lived and he took pity on them. He called the steersman to land, and was first to board when the ship made fast. Even though the warm sun of Middle Yarr rode high in the sky, the very planks of the deck radiated a numbing cold.

“What does this mean?” Kjalhund asked the ship’s steersman. “What has happened?”

“The Frostfall has taken Atmora,” the steersman answered him. “We were the last to sail from Jylkurfyk. There will be no more after us, for the city is frozen and dead.”

“But the sun rides high,” said Kjalhund. “It is summer!”

“There is no summer in Atmora,” the steersman told him. “The day we made ready to sail, a Snow Elf came to us. a child dressed in a thin gown, though we shivered in our heaviest furs. She said to us, ‘I bring you a message. With your swords and axes you slew our homeland. With the Frostfall we have now slain yours. Look upon these frozen shores for the last time, and know that this is the harvest that your fathers sowed, and their fathers before them.’ Then she vanished.”

A cold shadow fell upon Kjalhund and all who heard the steersman speak. They looked over the sea toward far Atmora, and indeed the day seemed to grow pale and chill in spite of the summer.

Some in Winterhold who were not there later scoffed at the tale. If the Snow Elves commanded such dire magic, they said, then why had they not used it to defeat Ysgramor and save their realms in Skyrim? The steersman and his crew said nothing more.

But no more ships came out of Atmora.

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