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Translation(s): Fahdon-friend, Wuth-wise
Enola let out a heavy, tired sigh as she rolled out her bed. It had been quite a day. She would have to say the highlight of her day was the battle against Alduin. He had been a tough adversary. She considered herself lucky to have Vigil and Paarthurnax there to help her fight the World Eater. She did not believe she would have done as well as she did without their help. At the mentioning of them, she first gazed at her faithful and brave war dog Vigil.
She smiled while watching him sleep. Behind those closed eyelids, she could clearly picture his big, gleaming yellow eyes. He was a dog with a spirited personality and a fiery heart. She giggled at how crazy he could be when they were traveling. Using one of her hands, she held her neck-length, black hair back so it would not hit and wake her companion up. Then, being as gentle and quiet as possible, she leaned over her bed and kissed him on the head.
When she saw she did not wake him up, she let go of her hair and slowly stood up. Then she walked over to the entrance of the cave. She was about to step back in when the chill hit her face and long ears like small daggers. Despite the amount of times she had come to the Throat of the World, she still had not gotten used to the cold. The weather and temperature was certainly different than that of her homeland of Valenwood. The cold was one of the two things she did not like about the place. The other was the climb and having to deal with wolves and ice wraiths. However, Paarthurnax seemed to make it all worthwhile in the end. Speaking of which, she scanned the snowy area until she spotted him perched on his usual spot.
Enola smiled as she studied the elderly, yet wise dragon. From where she was standing, she could see his faint movements as he breathed in and out. He appeared to be deep in thought. She chuckled again and shook her head. It was hard to believe he was a powerful and immortal dragon. He certainly did not look like it. But he had proved, despite his appearance, he was a capable dragon who could handle himself in a conflict.
Suddenly, she felt her heart sink. The images of the battle played out in her mind. Not only had she worried about Vigil, but also Paarthurnax. When she had seen the burnt marks and spots of blood on Paarthurnax, awful feelings surfaced in her heart and stomach. Sadness. Fear. She had felt those when she thought she was going to be executed simply because she had forcefully put in the same category – prisoner - as the Stormcloaks.
She assumed she felt sadness and fear when she saw Vigil and Paarthurnax hurt. During her time in Skyrim, she had grown close to both. Losing them would...
Enola shook her head to get rid of that horrible thought. She had seen enough misery in her travels to push herself to do her best to protect the ones she cared about.
With that thought in mind, she took one more glance at the meditating dragon before heading back into the cave. She made her way over to the bed. Then she took her armor off in exchange for more comfortable, sleeping attire. She checked on the fire and adjusted it before heading to bed. Cuddling under the covers and scooting closer to Vigil, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Enola opened her eyes and examined the area around her. The scene before her seemed familiar somehow. She found it difficult to place her finger on it. The maelstrom of emotions – regret, sadness, hopelessness, anger, and a strange sensation she could not place - did not help her either. They seem to emerge from various sources. All of a sudden, it hit her. She was at her supposed execution...again.
This cannot be happening, she thought with annoyance.
She let out a heavy sigh and then gazed up. Her eyes fell upon the Captain. Instantly, the look on her face turned into a glare.
If things had been different, you would already have one my arrows stuck in between your eyes, she thought with disdain toward the Captain.
All of a sudden, she gazed toward the sky when she heard a distant, fierce roar. She instantly knew the creature behind it.
"Aldu...," Her words were cut off when she felt a sudden, sharp pain in her head. She groaned softly as she held her head, despite her wrists being bound. As the headache lingered, she felt something else...something...strange inside her. At first, she simply thought it was her heart. It beat like her heart, but the pulsing sensation was...foreign. She did not recognize it.
What is this...feeling? She wondered. She took steady, deep breaths to try to help lessen the pain. Thankfully, it seemed to work.
Once she recovered, events from that day proceeded just as she remembered...save for the pain and sensation she had just experienced.
How strange, she thought. I do not remember such feelings.
Enola only had a few moments to reflect when the Captain called her forward. She suddenly felt her heart pound against her chest and a chill run down her spine. She felt all the eyes upon her were like the yellow-slitted eyes of a pack of wolves upon its helpless prey. Her head fell slightly as she took a subtle step back. Just as she saw the Captain march toward her, the roar echoed through the sky again.
She groaned again as she felt the headache and pulsing sensation return. They were more intense in power the second time, making it difficult for her to stay standing. Strangely and unbeknownst to her, they seemed to be synchronized with the sound. As the sound faded away, the headache and pulsing sensation did too just like before. She felt the last remnants of the pulsing sensation forcefully push out of her body.
She breathed heavily. Feeling lightheaded, she stood in place for a moment until her head was clear. Her moment was brought to an abrupt end when something gentle and warm touched her back. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the Captain's subordinate officer Hadvar. He was standing beside her with his hand securely to her back. She looked at him to see his eyes were soft and sympathetic.
"I am sorry...truly," he whispered. Then he lightly pushed her toward the chopping block.
As she was making her way toward the headsman, time seemed to slow down. Getting closer and closer to him, time not only slowed, but the area got brighter. Enola had to squint her eyes to protect them from the blinding light. When she was within a few inches from the headsman, everything disappeared in the bright, white light. Next thing she knew...
She was running for her life.
Enola ran and dodged debris and fire while following Hadvar. They were heading toward a tall, stone tower when a big, black dragon landed right in front of her. She took a few steps back when it looked at her with its blood-red eyes. A deep growl emerged out of its maw, which stopped her in her tracks. Then its maw slowly opened in a malicious grin. She swallowed hard as she felt the dragon's name being forced from her throat.
"Al...," she said as she began to choke, "Al...Alduin."
The dragon's grin only became more sinister and dark.
"Dovahkiin," Alduin growled deeply. Then he opened his maw and...
A blinding orange and yellow light.
Visions flashed in and out in Enola's mind. She was able to pick up little details as each passed by. The sights and sounds added a realistic feel to them. The scenes in the visions depicted absolute chaos and destruction. She could see buildings on fire, villagers panicking and running to safety, and...dragons. They dominated the sky and rained down fire like angry gods. Warriors, rogues, and mages gave it their all to stop the dragons. It appeared their efforts made little difference.
All of a sudden, she found herself experiencing the chaos firsthand. She attacked and dodged wherever she could. It was not long before she spotted an all-too-familiar looking dragon. Alduin swooped in from almost our of nowhere to join his kin in reeking havoc. After staring at him for a moment or two, she began to experience the terrible headache and the pulsing sensation again. She clenched her head before falling to her knees. The headache seemed to increase in strength as each minute passed by. Eventually, due to the incredible rate of pain, she passed out.
Feeling a wave of relief wash over her like a gentle river, Enola moaned softly as she began to come around. She slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was a bit blurry at first. It only took a few seconds for it to clear up completely. When she was able to see clearly, she saw a large, black dragon loom over her.
"Alduin!" she gasped.
His maw stretched into a sinful grin. "Sleep well, zaam?" Then he lowered his head down toward her.
Enola quickly turned her head away and shut her eyes. What came next was something she did not expect. She expected him to kill her either through fire or tooth. Instead, she felt his warm, wet tongue slither over her cheek. After he licked her, she heard him...purr.
Rendered speechless for a moment, she just stared off into space. She was brought out of her stare when she noticed something about the place she was in. Studying the area closely, it seemed familiar to her somehow. The area had jagged, stone walls and soft, yet dry dirt floors. The room sort of looked like an area in Cidnha Mine only much larger in size and scope.
Alduin sensed her confusion. "Things are not as they seem, zaam. Your mind is playing tricks on you."
Enola jerked her head toward him and glared. "What did you do to me?!"
He laughed a deep, shady laugh and replied, "I did nothing to you."
"You expect me to believe you?!" she spat feeling her frustration rise.
"Believe what you may," he purred before licking her again.
She trembled as his tongue slowly glided across her skin. She clenched her hands into fists and took in deep breaths to try to compose herself. The only emotion she did not calm down was anger. "Argh! Stop that!" Getting more annoyed with him by the minute and wanting to escape, she called upon her magicka to form a fireball in her hand. She was about to launch it at him when he used his wings to pin her arms down.
Not expecting him to counter, she quickly thought up of another way to attack him. She took a deep breath to prepare a Shout when the idea popped into her head.
"Yol Toor-ah!" Her shout was stopped when he stepped roughly on her chest, causing the last word to come out as a gasp.
Alduin leaned closer to her and growled, "You are quite the bold, yet foolish warrior, zaam."
Gasping under the great, yet controlled pressure on her chest, Enola glared. "You damned dragon!"
Just as she began to feel lightheaded, she was given unexpected relief when he let up on her a bit. As she took a moment to catch her breath, a question popped up in her mind. Realizing how much she would hate herself if she gave into curiosity, she tightly shut her eyes and looked away.
"What is going on in that petty, little mind of yours?" he purred while stroking her stomach gently with his snout. As he went back and forth, he took in deep breaths of her scent. The scent of fahliil, elf, was dominant. However, he did pick up the scent of dovah as well.
Enola's eyes and fists clenched tighter as she felt chills run down her body. She felt a moan surface into her throat. She kept her mouth shut as best as she could. She did not want to moan in front of Alduin. It would only boost his arrogance and self-pride, which she did not want. Plus, the contact he forced on her made her feel wrong in various ways. She squirmed under his foot as a feeble attempt to make him stop. Unfortunately, he did not.
Before long, she gave into her curiosity. Swallowing a hard lump in her throat , she said, "You keep calling me "zaam". What does it mean?"
Alduin paused and rose his head up to gaze at her. For a moment, he simply stared at her before laughing. Then he rested the tip of his snout over her lips and glided it across her face until he reached her ear.
"What?!" Enola shouted as she moved more vigorously under his foot. "I am not your slave!"
Alduin raised his head until he could see her again. She only stopped squirming when he pushed down on her chest a second time, making it more difficult for her to breathe and struggle. He let up only when she stopped and started breathing heavily.
"See, zaam. It is not easier to submit than struggle," he purred.
Enola focused more on catching her breath than answering him. After a few moments passed, she gazed at him with a blank, yet determined look. "It may be easier, but it is not always fair to everyone. Nor does it lead to better times for people."
"Also, if you think I will submit to you, then you are sadly mistaken. I am Dragonborn and I will stop you." The confident feeling that was starting to build within her slowly dwindled when Alduin let out a loud, amused laugh.
"Do you truly believe this world is worth saving?"
"Well, yes..." Her words suddenly caught in her throat for some strange reason. Honestly, she never thought about it before. No one had ever asked her.
He stopped laughing to gaze intently at her. He picked up her pause and how she did not finish her answer. "I sense your doubt."
"I..." Enola struggled for an answer. Doubts had suddenly begun to spread though her mind like a wildfire. She tried to think of good, bright sides to the world. Wherever she came up with one, a negative scenario or thought would appear and consume it. Alduin's voice brought her out of her thoughts.
"What is your true reason for opposing me, Dovahkiin?"
"It is my destiny to stop you," she said with as much confidence as possible.
Snickering, he replied, "Is destiny your only reason? If so, you and I are more alike than we ever thought possible."
"I am nothing like you," she hissed while looking at him straight in the eye.
Alduin lowered his head down until his maw was mere inches away from her. "You are right."
Shocked by his statement, she said, "I am?"
Alduin was silent for a moment before he smiled a very dark, suggestive smile. "I am not a zaam."
Anger instantly flared up in her. She began to fiercely struggle again. "You...you vokul sivaas!
Amused by her insult, he said, "Interesting. You have picked up some of our language. Your speech will be one more thing I will have to work on. For now, praan zaam."
"No! Release me you damned dragon."
"Praan," he said softly again before resting his snout on her cheek and stroking it. Then he opened his maw and licked her.
"St-st-stop," she said attempting to suppress a moan.
Disregarding her plea, he went down to her neck and began to give it attention. He altered between licks and nips to keep it interesting for his mal zaam, little slave.
Enola found it hard to keep herself awake. His caress felt good...relaxing.
Do not give into him, Enola, she thought to herself. But before she knew it, she fell into darkness.
Enola moaned before slowly opening her eyes. Suddenly feeling anxious, she shot up and scanned her surrounding area. She sighed with relief when she realized she was in a safe place with friends. She was not in Cidhna Mine, at least an area that looked like it, but in Paarthurnax's cave. She wrapped herself in her blanket when she felt the chill of the Throat of World. Luckily, she felt waves of warmth radiating from Vigil and Paarthurnax. Thus, the cold was not too bad.
Seeing as she did not have anything to worry about, she laid back down. Reflecting on her dreams, especially the last one, she let out a heavy, stressed sigh.
That was not even the real Alduin, she thought. So why are his words bothering me? She shivered as she remembered the feel of his tongue and scaly hide on her. For it only being a dream, it felt real. She placed her hand over her eyes and ran it down her face. Then she whispered an elven curse.
Sitting back up, she turned slightly to see it was light outside. Judging by the lighting, she guessed it was early morning. She saw no point in going back to sleep. Plus, she had a feeling her mind would be too busy thinking about Alduin's words to allow her a good, restful sleep. Being as quiet as she could, she got ready for the day.
When she was finished, she strapped on her bow and arrows and headed down to the damaged Word Wall. Once she set up a fire to keep warm, she turned to face the Words embedded into the Wall. She stared at them for a moment before walking up to them. Then she slowly ran her fingers over the outlines. As her fingers ran over the Words of Power, she went into deep thought.
Paarthurnax began to stir when the early lighting of the day touched his eyes. He opened his eyes to reveal tired, yet glossy blue orbs. He laid still for a moment before letting out a big yawn. Then he slowly began to get up. He was about to beat his wings as a way to wake and stretch them, but stopped when he remembered he had guests in his dwelling.
Gazing around his home, he managed to spot the Dovahkiin's companion, but no Dovahkiin. He slightly cocked his head to side in curiosity and confusion. His neck extended out as he began to smell the air and then the vacant bed. When he lifted his head into the air, the wind had carried her scent into his nose.
"There you are," he said softly.
Enola was sitting down and cradling a candlelight spell in between her hands when she heard the flapping sound of a dragon's wings. Tensing up and getting ready for a fight, her candlelight turned into a flaming fireball. With it held at ready to fire, she took her attention off it and looked up. She instantly relaxed when she saw it was Paarthurnax who made the noise. A small smile pulled at her lips. As she waited for him to land, she turned the fireball back into a candlelight.
"Good morning, Master," she said when he landed on his usual perch.
"Master?" he laughed lightly. "I do not think you have addressed me as such before."
She shrugged. "Well, you are the leader of the Greybeards. Plus, because of you, I have a bit of a better understanding about the Rotmulaag, the Words of Power. I have noticed they have become more powerful and precise. Not only that, but you have also taught me a few words of the dragon language. The way I see it: you have become my teacher who I respect greatly."
"You honor me, Dovahkiin."
Peeking up at him, she smiled and bowed her head.
"Which do you desire to learn about today?"
He paused and waited for her answer. He observed her as she continued to focus on the little light hovering in front of her. Something did not seem right. In her previous visits, she had always seem to be eager to learn. Now, she seemed...distant. She was there physically, but not mentally. He could tell something definitely occupied her thoughts.
"Dovahkiin?" he said stretching his neck slightly toward her. When she still did not answer him, he tried to think of a different way to get her attention. He stopped when he saw her allow the candlelight to rise from her hands until it reached his level. Despite it being a spell and the only thing sustaining the little light's life was the Dovahkiin's magic, he found it's fabricated nature...intriguing.
Enola stared at the candlelight and then at Paarthurnax. Then she looked at the two as if they were one. It was strange having the candlelight hover before the elderly dragon. It was almost as if she was staring at his visible, tangible life force. She gasped and felt her heart sink when it went out.
"Damn it," she whispered as she massaged the sides of her head.
"Hin hadrim, your mind, is troubled," he said now focusing on her. "What is troubling you so?"
She remained silent and looked into the fire. She then shut her eyes tightly as if she was in pain. Her eyes instantly shot open when she heard him make a sound she had not heard from him before.
Did he just...whimper? She wondered.
Looking up, she offered him a soft, friendly smile. "I'm all right, Paarthurnax. I just...have a lot on my mind." She waved her hand in the air casually and laughed. "Please, don't mind me. Let's just on with the lesson today." Her smile faded when he just continued to stare at her. "Paarthurnax..."
"Something is causing you and your thoughts distress. I can see it your miin, eyes." Enola began to open her mouth to speak when he spoke up again. "Niid nok, no lies, Dovahkiin."
She had to laugh at herself and him. She should have known better than to try to lie to a dragon who has been around for centuries. Plus, when she thought about it, she felt bad. Paarthurnax had done so much for her and taught her many things. She knew he deserved better.
"All right, all right," she said. She let out a deep, heavy sigh before speaking again. "Do you...do you think I'm foolish?" She paused to look up at him to if he had anything to say. She saw him simply staring back at her, clearly listening closely and waiting for her to continue. "Am I foolish for even attempting to stop Alduin? Am I truly destined to stop him?"
Paarthurnax was unable to answer her for a moment because he was confused by her sudden doubt. The first time they had met, she had stated she did not believe in destiny. However, she said she would stop Alduin regardless. Now, she seemed...lost.
"I do not understand. Where did these sudden doubts come from?"
Sighing again, she carefully stood up before leaning against the Word Wall. "I...I just been thinking."
She ran her hand down her face before answering. "It just seems no matter what I do, misery and corruption seem to rule this world. Is it...really worth saving?" She shivered as she remembered her dream when Alduin had asked her the same question. Looking up at Paarthurnax, she asked, "Say I did nothing to stop Alduin, what would be the worst thing that could transpire?"
Still confused by her words and doubts, he put it aside to ponder on her question. "Hmmm? If you did nothing to stop him, I believe he would do everything in his power to ensure the destruction of Skyrim. Keep in mind, he would not stop at Skyrim. His final victory would mean...," he paused and then said, "...faal oblaan se pah laas, the end of all life."
"Damn," she whispered. "He is really that powerful?"
He nodded. "Remember only a few of the dovah rebelled against him while most had remained his grah-zeymahzin, ally."
"Yeah. The ones I have run into are definitely Alduin's allies." Using only one of her hands, she massaged the sides of her temple. "I hate this."
"Allow me to ask you this, Dovahkiin. Why are you questioning this world's worth?"
"I guess...during my travels, the evilness of this world seem to emerge out of every possible opening. It seems like no matter how much good is done, wickedness would wash over it like the waves of a rushing river." She shrugged. "I don't know...it just seems like my efforts are being wasted."
Starting to understand where her distress and doubt were coming from, he nodded. "Allow me to ask another question."
She stopped massaging the sides of her temple to gaze up at him. "All right."
"Do you have any fron, kin, that are dear to you? A monah, mother? A bormah, father?"
"Both, but they are in Valenwood."
"I see. No kin in Skyrim?"
"No...," she stopped herself feeling unsure about her answer. She directed her eyes away from Paarthurnax and went into deep thought. Normally, she would have been confident about her answer. The question he asked was not that complicated. But the situation she was in now was different. She had met lots of people during her travels in Skyrim. A small number of them became her friends. But...had she grown close to some to consider them family?
Yes, she thought, specifically Vigil and...Paarthurnax. They may not be human, elf, or whatever, but she did not care. Each had something special that separated them from the rest.
Suddenly, she something warm in her heart and stomach when she thought about Paarthurnax. It was true she greatly respected him and considered him her teacher. However, her thoughts and feelings toward him have evolved. Lately, she has seen him as the grandfather she never had. Aged, yet wise. Also, there was something about him. Something that made her feel safe, warm.
Then she remembered the candlelight and how it seemed to represent his life force. She remembered how she felt when it went out. It...scared her, saddened her. She did not want to lose anyone she cared about. She knew she would if she did nothing.
She sighed and looked back up at him. "I...there are a few who I consider to be family."
She shook her head. "No, but that does not matter to me. It does change how I feel about them." Then she smiled up at him.
Nodding in approval, he asked, "Now, do you wish to lose the ones you have and come to care for?"
"No. Then I would truly have no reason to fight." She crossed her arms and said, "I am starting to realize something."
"What might that be?"
"No matter how bad things might get, I must remain strong and keep going or else I risk losing everyone precious to me. I just have to remember the ones I care about. The ones who make this world bright and worthwhile to me. I shouldn't give up...I can't give up."
Seeing the confidence and hope restored in her, he smiled and said, "I do not think Akatosh would have bestowed the gift of Dovahkiin unto you if he did not believe in you and your abilities."
Flattered by his comment, Enola blushed and laughed. "Thank you...Paarthurnax."
"My pleasure. Feeling better now?"
She nodded. "Yes. I...I am ready to learn now."
Happy to see and hear her feeling better, he nodded and gestured with his wing. "Let us begin then."
Feeling content, she nodded and then sat down.
For the remainder of the day, Enola listened to Paarthurnax as he taught her. At one moment, she stopped listening to simply observe him. Taking in every detail about him, she realized she was truly blessed to have someone like him she could talk to. Not only did he understand her, but also the situation she had been thrown into.
Nodding, she thought, I promise I won't give up. I will protect the ones I love, no matter the threat.