Lunara didn't sleep much after leaving Vilkas that night. She tossed and turned, more than once wondering if she shouldn't just go to him and abandon her crazy traveling potion merchant scheme. No, if something destined them to be together, it wasn't right now. She gave up on sleep shortly before dawn and got up to put on her new armour. Once dressed, she threw her satchel over her shoulder and picked up her backpack full of potions she made to sell in the next city. She left the temple and meandered towards the city gate, smelling the crisp morning air, and overcome with a strange sense of sadness.
Vilkas was right, this had become her home. Now that she had no idea when she'd see it again, she realized how much it meant to her. Lost in her thoughts as she was, it didn't take her long to reach the front gate. The guards ignored her, as they had since the dungeon incident. She pushed through the gates and walked down the road to the stables. She thought she felt eyes watching her, but she knew she'd lose her resolve to leave if she looked up at the walkway and saw Vilkas sitting there. He'd had no idea how hard it had been for her to walk away from him last night. She squared her shoulders and kept walking.
When she reached the stables, she checked the saddlebags on the horse she'd bought from Skulvar a few days before. Skulvar had said her name was Queen Alfsigr, but he called her Allie for short. She had packed everything yesterday evening to make sure she was ready for her early start. The first large city she planned to visit was Riften, and she had a long way to go. She finished checking the saddlebags and fished a carrot out of her satchel, feeding it to the horse. Then she mounted Allie and pointed her toward White River Bridge. She fought the urge to look back at the city as she left it, instead focusing on the road before her. She had been in Skyrim for six months and had never so much as left Whiterun. She had thought more than once that going on this adventure alone was the dumbest thing she'd ever attempted to do, but the only person she knew who had the ability to protect her was Vilkas and he was a Companion who had his own responsibilities to attend to. Responsibilities he probably neglected for far too long just looking after her inside the walls of the city, she reminded herself.
Just after crossing the bridge, she dealt with a pack of wolves that tried to attack Allie. She harvested the alchemical ingredients she could from them and then rolled the bodies down the embankment and into the river. No sense in leaving them to rot in the sun, she thought. She took a drink from her waterskin and climbed back on her horse. The scenery was beautiful, and she got so caught up in it she almost missed the stack of rocks that showed the turn she needed to get to the mountain pass that lead to the town of Ivarstead. She dispatched another pack of wolves and turned her horse toward the pass.
The path was steep, and she hoped that nothing spooked the horse on their way up the slope because it was a long way to the bottom. About halfway up, the wind picked up and her hair whipped around and hit her in the face. She pulled Allie to a stop and dug in the saddlebag for her cloak and hood. Once she had fastened both, she nudged Allie forward. They reached the summit of the path and found a small herd of mountain goats huddled together for warmth. It was freezing here, and the wind howled through the narrow pass relentlessly. Snow from the mountainside flew around wildly stinging her exposed skin. She urged the horse to go a bit faster and soon they were descending the other side of the mountain. She breathed a sigh of relief when she approached a river marked on her map as Treva River. She slid off the horse to give it a chance to rest and drink.
Allie's ears flicked back and forth and she stomped her feet. "What is it girl?" Lunara said, petting the horse while scanning the banks of the river for danger. Across the river upstream there was a huge black troll. It wasn't coming for her, but it was making it very clear the other side of the river was its territory. She murmured soft soothing noises to the horse, praying to the Divines she didn't get spooked and run. She took her bow off her back and nocked an arrow. Make every shot count, the thought as she aimed for one of the creatures many eyes. She let the arrow fly, and it hit true. The troll roared with pain trying to find the direction of the arrow. Lunara nocked another arrow and when the creature opened its mouth to roar again, she let go of the bowstring and the arrow went into its mouth and stuck out the back of its neck. She put the bow across her back and turned back to the horse. "There, see the bad troll is all gone now. Come on, let's get across this river," she said to Allie as she led her across a small path made of stone across the water. On the other side, she harvested alchemical ingredients from the dead troll and checked the pockets of the two dead soldiers she assumed the troll killed. One had a book and a few septims, and the other had a few septims, a silver necklace, and an amethyst ring she thought might go for some coin. She shook off the feeling of guilt and what amounted to robbing the dead with the justification that if it wasn't her, bandits or worse would do the same. She said a prayer for forgiveness, although she wasn't sure if it really mattered. She got back on her horse and made the rest of the trip to Ivarstead.
The village was tiny, nestled at the base of the tallest mountain she'd ever seen, with only an inn, a lumber mill and a few scattered homes set along the main road. It was late afternoon now, and she decided to see how much a room was at the inn. She had no idea how much longer it would take her to reach Riften, but she didn't want to be traveling the roads of Skyrim alone in the dark. She stopped her horse and slid off, leading her toward the back of the inn and the river bank. She dropped the reins, letting Allie graze and get her fill of water. When she was satisfied, Lunara led her back to a small grove of trees near the side of the inn and unhooked the saddlebags. She had made them special, with a set of straps so she could wear them like a backpack. She put her arms through the straps of one and carried the other up the steps of the inn and through the door.
This inn looked almost exactly like Dead Man's Drink in Falkreath. It had a large main room with a hearthfire that did an excellent job of keeping the place warm. There were several tables and chairs spread about the room, with patrons scattered around the room. She heard a male voice in the bar's direction say, "Welcome to the Vilemyr Inn." She turned her attention toward the voice and made her way to the bar.
"How much for a room?" she said.
"It's twenty-five septims for the room and an extra ten for the private bath," he said.
"I'll take just the room for now," she said, counting out the coins and laying them on the bar.
"Thank you. I'll show you to your room, right this way," he said. He led her to a large room with two beds, a small table and chair and a dresser. "My name is Wilhelm if you need anything else," he said, nodding to her and closing the door. She dropped her packs on the floor and sat down. Although the day had been relatively peaceful, it tired her. She sat down on the chair and started rummaging through her pack, looking for the spell tome he had been studying the night before. She wasn't a conjuration mage, but she would learn how to use this chest, or else. It would be so much easier to summon all of her stuff instead of having to carry it all over Oblivion's half acre. She found the book and laid it on the table, flipping it open to the pages she'd been reading when Vilkas showed up the night before, and a slight smile crossed her lips at the thought of him. It hurt more than she would've liked to admit leaving him there, but she thought it would be best. She'd had no intention of joining the Companions and she couldn't and wouldn't ask him to give up his home and responsibilities to go traveling with her.
She turned her focus back to the spell tome. She finished reading the book and stood, ready to attempt to conjure the chest. She concentrated on the chest appearing, just like the book had said to and a purple swirling light appeared on the floor in front of her. When it cleared, there was a large, almost transparent outline of a chest on the floor. She checked the book again, wondering if she'd messed up the spell somehow, but the book had vanished. She shrugged and ran a hand along the top of the chest. It felt solid, it just didn't look that way. Guess that's what it meant by ethereal, she thought. She opened the lid and found it empty. She placed some food in it, it was easy to replace if her experiment didn't work. Then she closed the lid and concentrated on making the chest disappear. The purple light appeared again, and the chest disappeared. She did a little happy dance and then composed herself. She summoned the chest again and opened it to find the food she placed in it still there. Yes, this would do nicely, she thought, grinning.
The inn doors flew open and chaos erupted in the main hall. Patrons were scattering to their rooms, knocking over dishes and flagons. People in Skyrim are jumpy, she thought as she sent the chest back and went to open her door. There was a town guard standing in front of the open door yelling, "Is anyone here a healer? We need a healer quickly, the captain was attacked by a bear."
Lunara watched as the other patrons ignored the guard, concerned only for their own safety. She walked out of the room and said, "I am a healer. If you give me a moment to get my satchel, I will come with you." The whole inn stopped and stared at her, incredulous. No one said a word, but the guard nodded and said, "quickly, please." Lunara ducked back into her room and stuffed a few potions into her satchel and then went out, closing the door behind her. "Let's go," she said, crossing the room quickly while the inn patrons stared at her.
She followed the guard down the road to the lumber mill. Several guards had laid the captain on the platform of the mill. When the guard and Lunara approached, the others moved back to let them pass. She felt the captain's heart beating; slow and getting slower. She looked him over and found several deep gashes on his right thigh. She dug around in her satchel and pulled out a healing potion she had created. She handed it to the guard and said, "pour this down his throat. It'll slow the bleeding while I work on the rest of him." The guard nodded, beckoning the others to help.
Lunara tore away the remnants of the fabric breeches from the wound. She put one hand over it and concentrated as she used her other to pull another healing potion from her bag. The moonbeam colored tendrils of light surrounded the captain's leg as she uncorked the bottle with her teeth and poured it directly into the gashes on his leg. She watched in amazement as the skin stitched itself back together. Once the wound was closed, she pulled her hand away and stood up. After a few minutes the captain coughed and opened his eyes. The other guards helped him to his feet, and he spoke to her. "You saved my life, and you didn't have to. Here let me give you something for your trouble." He fished in his coin purse and handed her 25 septims.
"I know it's not much, but it's all I have to give you," he said with a sad smile. She took the gold and said, "No, no. It's okay. Thank you." She walked away as the guard who came to the inn stopped her. He held out another twenty-five septims. "Here," he said, "this is for helping when no one else would."
"Thank you," she said, then turned and walked back to the inn, smiling to herself.