Disclaimer: Skyrim and all its characters, places, etc are the property of Bethesda.
Thu'um is Bolded.
She wasn't ready.
Everything about this encounter screamed it.
His shadow loomed over head and she dived, red-hot fire licking at her back and singeing her hair. She rolled to her feet, gasping for breath and wincing at the light burns on her neck. She ran, sure feet glancing over rocks and ice, snow whipping past her and harsh mountain wind cutting her cheeks.
The fort entrance was just yards away, its thick stone walls molded into the face of the mountains surface, stretching up in an impenetrable wall. He was gaining on her, his great black wings ripping through the air as he roared her name.
His shout brought her skidding to her knees and she screamed, back arching as pain tore through her. He said it like a curse, imbuing all his hate, distain and loathing into the word and flinging it at her.
She trembled as she rocked forward, cloak snapping behind her as she forced herself to stumble blindly through the snow and ice in a desperate attempt to reach safety.
They had said she had time. They had said that he didn't know who she was. How could they have been so incredibly blind? He knew her Name. Oh Gods, her Name!
She tripped when she entered the fort's tunnel entrance, body sprawling and lightly covered limbs smashing on the hard rock. The ground shook when he landed, ice and dirt falling on her as she dragged herself to her feet, sprinting up the inclined tunnel. She knew it led to an open courtyard atop the fort and to the entrance of the mountain caves. He wouldn't be able to get to her in there. She would be safe inside the dark narrow passageways.
The dragon dug at the entrance, wicked talons shrieking against the rock as he hissed and growled.
She gasped, falling against the old stone wall and biting a fist to stop herself from screaming. She chanced a look back outside only to throw herself down moments later. She covered her head as ice shards shattered above her, the cold fragments slicing into her unprotected skin. She glanced up, squinting through the gloom. The end of the tunnel was still so far away!
He snapped his maw shut, ending his shout and sending the sound reverberating up the tunnel and into her skull. She stood and franticly took a deep breath.
"WULD NAH KEST!"
Her searing Shout brought her just past the exit and into the courtyard. Head shaking from dizziness, she hurried to the other side, leaping over fallen pillars and skidding over the iced stonework. The frozen air burned her lungs, squeezing itself past her stinging, raw throat. She felt more that heard him take flight again as she slammed into the wall opposite the tunnel.
Her anxiety grew as she raked her numb hands over the frozen vines covering the ancient metal door she had run into, desperately ripping them off. Distantly, she noticed that her hands bled and that the winter wind made the cuts on her body sting. She grabbed the burning cold handle ring and pulled harshly.
The door didn't budge.
He roared overhead and she sobbed, the sound wheezing out as she pathetically braced her booted feet against the stonework and pulled with adrenaline filled limbs. Slowly, carefully, the metal door creaked open. With just enough room for her to enter, she squeezed her small form through and turned to drag the door closed.
She sagged at his voice, head flopping against the gateway and body going limp as her mouth opened in a silent scream.
He hovered over the balcony of the courtyard, wings beating the air and hard, sharp, obsidian body blocking out the world beyond. She watched helplessly, paralyzed with pain, as he took a deep breath and Shouted. She cringed, closing her eyes at her imminent death.
She blinked stupidly moments later, surprised at her still beating heart.
She pulled herself up, clinging to the door in exhaustion and freezing at the sight before her.
The dragon, his wings once outstretched, stood suspended in the air above the courtyard, black leathery appendages wrapped around himself and head tucked beneath them. Slowly, then gaining speed, his scales began shifting.
His form shrank, bones snapping, and limbs disappearing behind the writhing mass of flesh. She had stopped breathing, staring in horror at the spectacle before her. She inched behind the door, wanting to tear her gaze away but being unable to.
Then, just as quickly as it had begun, it stopped.
The wings quivered before snapping open, revealing the form of the Dovah turned Man.
He was fully armored, ebony spikes protruding sharply from his breast plate and leggings, emphasizing the wings extended fully behind him. The snow whirled harshly about him as he glided softly to the courtyard, landing without a sound on the frost covered stone.
He stretched, wings extending, before closing and sinking slowly into his body. The helmet on his head, no, the scales, ruffled, folding in on themselves and sinking down his neck to his chest. Hair, long and dark, flowed out and danced about the jagged horned spikes at his temple. She stood still, awed by his terrifying beauty. Then he opened his eyes.
Horrible ruby clashed with amber.
She gasped, slamming the door shut and running like the frightened mortal that she was.
She bit her lip, drawing blood.
He wasn't supposed to be able to do that. They swore it was impossible. How was she supposed to escape him now?
She turned a corner, activating a Nightseye spell so she could see in the darkness around her. She flinched as she heard an explosion behind her, the thick metal door flying and hitting the corner she had just turned. She glanced back at it and gulped. It was warped; the huge dent in it looking like had been made from a hand.
She turned another corner and stumbled over traitorous roots, shutting her eyes as tightly as she could to prevent herself from being blinded. Deactivating her spell and looking about, she quickly came to the conclusion that she was doomed.
The open space before her was a huge cavern, light and snow streaming in from the open ceiling and falling softly on the small underground stream flowing through it. Ferns littered the edge, growing stubbornly over the fallen rocks and debris. She eyed the cavern, lamenting the lack of a visible exit and franticly searching for a place to hide.
In the center was a wall, its words whispering, begging to be read. With sinking dread, she realized that she had lead the most powerful being in all of Skyrim to the ultimate scene of betrayal. If he wasn't pissed now, he defiantly would be when he saw that.
She gulped, soothing her enflamed throat then pulling her grey hood down and tightening the cloth covering the lower half of her masked face.
She wasn't ready.
Good Gods, she wasn't ready.
She spotted a shadowed outcropping, the dark space hidden neatly by some nearby ferns. Darting towards it, she wedged herself between two rocks and lay flat on the damp earth below. Flinging her dark cloak around her and sucking in a quick breath, she stilled her trembling body and forced herself to listen.
His footsteps were soft and even, as if he had all the time in the world. Which he probably did.
She didn't even know how he had found her. Or why he had sought her out. 'I'm going to die.' she thought with dread. 'I just know it.' She sighed softly, then stilled.
He was standing not two feet from her hiding place and she could just barely make out the back of his armored heel. Her eyes widened and she held her breath.
Then she was flying through the air, leather-clad body connecting with a disturbing crunch on the floor near the word wall. She moaned, wincing when he appeared and dragged her up, long fingers grabbing hold of her cloth-covered hair.
He looked her over, taking in her filthy, ragged form and sneering. It twisted his otherworldly features, turning his pale skin and sharp cheek-boned face into an ugly semblance of beauty.
"Pathetic. Eater of Worlds and fate pits me against a weakling."
He tossed her again, throwing her small body into the word wall. It shuddered, raining down sand and dust as she crumpled, barely holding back a groan of pain. Her cloak fell over her, as if to shield her from further harm.
"I can smell your fear, mortal. You reek of it."
He spoke disdainfully, the rough baritone rolling through her like a whispered Shout. He stalked forward, lithe body covering the space between them quickly. Hand extended, his long fingers reached down for her yet again.
She flinched back from his touch, pressing herself against the grey stone behind her in a vain attempt to get away. Scoffing and grabbing her painfully by the throat, he lifted her off the ground, her leather clad legs dangling in the air. She choked, gasping when he slammed her into the wall and pushed the air from her lungs. For once she wished that her mask didn't cover the lower half of her face, its damp material welding onto her mouth as she struggled for air.
"So fragile. So small, my supposed conquer. I could snap you lik-"
He broke off, striking eyes wandering sharply away from hers to something just above her head.
His grip slackened and she inhaled, the precious air flooding her lungs. Disbelief covered his face, morphing quickly into fury. Her gloved hands pushed weakly against his arm, snapping his attention back to her. His hand tightened.
"What is this?" He tugged her closer, words hissing lowly at her.
She struggled to remember, to understand what he was talking about, when suddenly she felt it.
The carvings dug into her back, their power pounding through her, whispering, calling. She felt her body go limp as her mind listened to the words, forever burning them into her memory. Vaguely, she noticed how the once still cave whirled with energy, the bright light whipping around her and her captor. Her soul cried out in triumph, the Dovah within basking in its new found power. Then, to her horror, she felt the familiar searing agony as the words forced their way past her aching lungs, her bruised throat and tore at her vocal cords in a Shout that ripped through her very being.
"FUS RO DAH!"
He was thrown from her, his nails leaving angry red lines on her skin as he flew back and crashed into the very outcropping she had hid beneath. It shattered, his body creating a sizeable crater before coming to a skidding halt near the tunnel.
She wheezed, coughing up blood and shakily trying to stand. The Shout and lack of oxygen had made her dizzy and she wavered.
She didn't see him coming until he was already upon her.
He seized her by her cloak, bringing her up before tossing her like a ragdoll.
"You would Dare!" He roared, the growling undertones of his voice booming out as if he were in his true form.
She landed in the stream, the cold water shocking her foggy mind to awareness like nothing else could. She scrambled up the rocky riverbed, grasping fingers digging into the roots and whipping at fern leaves in a frantic attempt to get to the now exposed tunnel entrance.
She had changed her mind.
Being outside was way better than being inside.
She felt blood leaking down her chin and neck, sinking into her mask. She sprinted down the tunnel, hearing his enraged Shout behind her and then feeling an icy coolness envelope her body. Her outer cloak froze, the frost creeping quickly up the cloth. She ripped it off as she ran, skirting around the dark corners and hurling into walls. She ignored the warped metal door, amber eyes seeking the bright light of the courtyard.
There was a loud bang and she was falling, bruised and bloody form sliding into the base of a broken stone pillar standing just outside. She rose quickly, starting to run but failing as an all too familiar hand whipped her around by the back of her leather chest piece. She was slammed into the pillar, arms striking out and legs kicking.
Her eyes met his and he grunted, batting her hands away and punching her harshly in the jaw. She stilled, blinking away stars before glaring up at him.
He smirked as he pinned her and she noticed with no little satisfaction that his mouth was bloody. It opened in a snarl.
"I want to see your face before you die."
His unoccupied hand reached for her mask and she struggled, pulling her head as far away as she could. He growled lowly, jerking her closer and ripping the mask from her.
Then promptly dropped her in shock.
She fell, unable to catch herself, long red hair falling out of her clothing in an arc as her head collided abruptly with the ice covered ground. She heard his voice faintly as she lost consciousness.
"The Dovahkiin is… female?"
AN: So the simple idea was that Alduin never expected the Dovahkiin to be a woman. I imagine that he would be expecting this huge, burly, accomplished warrior, or at least a rogue, but never well… this. It seriously just threw him for a loop.
Any who, review please. Good, bad, whatever, I'm always looking for ways to improve!