Disclaimer: Skyrim belongs to Bethesda
It was quite a sight. Probably most unlike that of Cyrodiil. Cyrodiil was impressive sometimes, yes – there were many creatures to look at. Many creatures that burned things. Many creatures that chased you around and tried to kill you.
M'aiq knew many of these creatures. But never before had he seen a dragon.
He had been wandering the shimmering geyser pools near Windhelm – he had fallen in line behind a Khajiit caravan. M'aiq was not always comfortable travelling alone, especially with the Nords about. The Nords with fur-lined armour, to boot. Skyrim was beautiful, yes… but its native inhabitants did not always like M'aiq.
And he did not always like them.
Still, M'aiq wandered the lands. He knew that interesting things would happen. For some reason, the Khajiit was a victim – or perhaps master – of circumstance. Always in the wrong place at the right time, or the wrong place in the right time…
… it did not make a difference to M'aiq.
The Khajiit had been glancing at a dragonfly, hovering above a pool – and thinking to himself that there had been less and less butterflies in Skyrim as of late – when his ears pricked beneath his hood in response to a distant, echoing roar.
M'aiq had not been expecting to see a dragon at all. He knew they were hidden throughout the lands of Skyrim. They had always been there. They had only simply been very, very quiet, and invisible, and he had expected them to remain that way.
The caravan before him panicked, and scattered, as a looming shadow swooped overhead, darting across the hot springs as a stark, black wisp.
The vagrant had realized, soon after the initial panic, that the group of Khajiit were not its target.
Instead, the dragon seemed very interested in a very startled-looking Argonian, whom he had just noticed dashing across the salt flats. The newcomer was hooded, wearing poorly-made heavy armour - that happened to be encumbering his movement. He had made no move for his swords, which were still sheathed to his sides.
M'aiq stood still, observing the lizard run by. The caravan had been abandoned, its goods spilling out of the horse-drawn cart – the equines having been cut free from their burden. The Khajiit crouched down next to the cart, grabbing a sweetroll that had tumbled from a slipping sack in the process.
Lucky for M'aiq.
Another large roar sounded from the flats, and he looked on, taking a bite from his prize. The Argonian had dove into one of the pools as a torrent of flame burst from the gaping maw of the dragon. M'aiq cringed, unsure what was worse – the scalding temperature of the hot springs, or the licking flames of a dragon's breath.
The lizard-man was very alive, though. Alive enough to burst from the water after the dragon had finished its assault – and alive enough to belt out a few strange words in an echoing, thunderous voice.
Fu do? Fush ro? Shush yo? M'aiq didn't quite catch the exact words, but the force of the shout was enough to make even the dragon flinch back in the air. The Argonian stumbled out of the pool in wake of the distraction and dashed in the opposite direction, uncorking two potion bottles that he'd grabbed out of his satchel and downing them both in one gulp.
The dragon did not let him get very far.
It dropped out of the air to crash on all fours before the warrior, who stumbled back - finally drawing both swords, his scaly face scrunched up into a snarl.
M'aiq looked on, almost having finished his sweet roll. The Khajiit wondered if the lizard-man had fought often. He did not look comfortable in battle – but he seemed to be a little tired of running. Still, M'aiq cared little about what the Argonian's ability was – he was merely interested in what the strange man could do.
That was all that mattered, after all. If strength or wit couldn't prove much alone, then action did.
The battle was slow, and drawn out – The Argonian spent most of his time running away – and at times, hiding beneath the surface of the water in any pool deep enough to contain him. He stayed there for as long as he needed for any respite he could gain. The dragon could always see where he was, though. He would always hover above the pool, waiting for its prey to surface.
Eventually, the scalding heat of the spring would be too much, and he would lunge out, choosing to either run away again, or charge straight at the dragon. M'aiq did not think it was a very noble tactic. M'aiq had seen better warriors, far better – far braver.
Still, M'aiq had never seen anyone fight a dragon.
And later, M'aiq would confess he had never seen anyone kill a dragon.
It wasn't the most impressive of endings – the Argonian had very messily managed to stab the creature between its blazing eyes when it was nearly paralysed with exhaustion, finally ending its wrath upon him. Then, he'd stumbled back and collapsed hard to the ground on one knee, wheezing in both exhaustion and pain. His swords remained embedded firmly upon the dragon's head, despite him having released them.
M'aiq popped the last few crumbs of the sweetroll into his mouth, and then rose to wander over to the Argonian, who now sat still upon the ground, wordlessly staring at the massive beast.
M'aiq paused when he saw the beast begin to flake away, its form glowing and disintegrating like floating embers on a campfire. The Khajiit, for a little while, simply watched the pretty, glowing flakes, and observed a sudden bout of winds and currents of energy from the dragon's corpse, sweeping about the odd warrior, who continued to sit there – his eyes shut in response.
And a sudden chorus of loud, harsh chanting suddenly assailed the Khajiit's ears. It was brief, but unexpected, and left as quickly as it came. M'aiq flicked his ears back.
"Did you hear that?"
The Argonian, tired and weary, turned to face the newcomer in confusion.
"Never mind. M'aiq shouldn't think on it too much." The Khajiit approached the dragon corpse – which could no longer be classified a corpse, really. It was a skeleton, devoid of any flesh, from what M'aiq could see. Scales, muscles and all had entirely disintegrated.
"M'aiq would have never believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes." He said, slowly.
"You're not the first person to say that." The Argonian said, quietly. Despite his weakness, he'd stumbled back to his feet.
"M'aiq does not think you've been doing this long." The Khajiit remarked. "M'aiq has never seen one fight dragons. He did not think they would be around so soon."
The warrior gave him a quizzical look. M'aiq had seen that look often.
"… I've only fought three dragons." The lizard seemed to speak before realizing he was doing so. "The first time, I had the aid of Whiterun's military. The second time, I was fortunate enough to be near a camp of Imperials, with skilled archers…"
He wandered over to the enormous bones of his kill, grasping one of the two swords still embedded in its skull.
"… This is the first one I've actually fought on my own."
"M'aiq believes there are many, many dragons in Skyrim." The vagrant stated, plainly. "He believes you will fight many more. It does not matter if you are alone, or with others."
The Argonian eyed him, suspiciously. "… How do you know?"
The Khajiit gave a shrug in response. "M'aiq knows much, and tells some. M'aiq knows many things others do not."
The lizard gave a chuckle. He seemed tired – perhaps a little bitter. "Pardon me for being skeptical, but you can't just know things."
He seemed to pause after that statement, as if suddenly uncertain of it.
"There is no point in elaborating something M'aiq cannot quite explain." The Khajiit said. "You simply go along with some things – knowledge, events, and fate. It is all very confusing, but M'aiq thinks we are trapped within certain paths, whether we like it or not."
The older warrior fell silent. The vagrant crossed his arms.
"M'aiq wonders who this man is. Not many Argonians in Skyrim." He watched as the man managed to yank one of his swords out of the thick dragon's skull. He seemed more engrossed in his task of freeing the other sword than acknowledging the vagrant.
"My name's Trace." The Argonian said, finally, as the second sword pulled free.
"Trace knows things others do not, it seems. And he cannot quite explain how. Maybe he will know, someday, but for now, M'aiq suggests he goes along with it." The Khajiit looked over at the fallen horse cart that had served as his hiding place throughout the battle. Its owners had not returned to claim it.
"M'aiq suggests a sweetroll." He offered to the Argonian, as he wandered over to the spilled supplies. "He thinks they solve more problems than most people believe."
For a brief while, M'aiq watched Trace continue to stare at the dragon bones. There wasn't much else to talk about after that little discussion. He'd at least accepted the Khajiit's offer in terms of confectionaries, and he now held the half-eaten sweetroll in a scaly hand.
The Argonian would not talk at all, now. That was alright. M'aiq was finished talking, too. Still – he wondered if he would run into the seemingly reluctant warrior again sometime. He supposed not – Trace would probably have much to do. Then again, Skyrim sometimes felt a lot smaller than many people would assume.
M'aiq walked on past the Argonian, giving him a soft slap on the shoulder as he did so. "M'aiq wishes you well."
Trace did not respond until the Khajiit had wandered a good ten feet away. Then, he turned and called over.
"Should I need to know what to do, at least?"
The vagrant turned on the spot, eyes glimmering in amusement.
"Why are you asking M'aiq, of all people?"
The Argonian gave a laugh – less bitter than his last. "You seem to know some things – that are either too crazy to be true, or too true to be crazy."
M'aiq tilted his head at the remark. Sometimes, he wondered if what he knew made any sense to anyone other than himself. He knew that at times, he did nothing more than confuse others – but he spoke what he believed was true.
"M'aiq thinks you should be careful who you listen to." He said. "He thinks it's better to think for himself. Otherwise, he might not think at all."
Trace blinked at the statement. The Khajiit knew the Argonian wasn't idiotic – he'd choose a path of his own, regardless of what others told him. Still, M'aiq knew carving out one's own path to carry out his fate wasn't the easiest thing to do. Looking from only one perspective could be very intimidating, indeed.
"Everyone says everything." The Argonian retorted, after a pause. "I'm not sure what to choose to believe."
The vagrant shrugged. "Some say Alduin is Akatosh. Some say M'aiq is a liar."
The Khajiit gave a toothy grin.
"Don't you believe either of those things."
The first time I ran into M'aiq was when I was being attacked by two dragons at once. I reset from an earlier save after getting my ass handed to me, many a time, but I couldn't find him again in the general area.
Still, the idea of him watching the Dovahkiin being chased by a dragon back and forth across the landscape as a form of entertainment kinda stuck in my brain. So this was churned out. I didn't have much time to do an entirely 'quirky' M'aiq – he had to deal with a lizard man suffering a motivational crisis.
Also, I seem to have a habit of writing these at 4am…