A/N: At 65 reviews and I couldn't get any more happy with this story. I think that I should reply to several of the reviewers who have pointed out certain things.
First of all, Hinata's skills are a compilation of her abilities from the manga, the anime and the various games that have come out under the franchise's name.
Second, Hinata is a ninja, despite how unsuited her personality is for the job. She's been through many, many years of conditioning by Konoha's finest, and that would affect the majority of her decisions.
And finally, Hinata is not a naturally born leader like the cannon „idea" for a Dragonborn, or, say, like Naruto. But people change and people learn both from experience and from mistakes. Furthermore, all of the major questlines will be present, perhaps even some interesting modded content, if I find it to my liking. I've already got a mod in mind that deserves its presence here.
But most importantly: My job isn't to write down every single quest in the game nor is it to keep it completely cannon with the dialogues. I know a lot of it starts out like a re-hash, but I am trying to deviate gently and fluidly, without breaking the feel of the game. My logic behind this is that if something happens for the first time, then people's reactions would be the same, no matter how many play-throughs you have. I think it's sound logic, don't you?
Enough explanation! It's time for the next chapter!
Edit: At 80 reviews and I'm already at a third of the reviews Moons of Red has so far. Ah well. All I could say is related to apologizing for this super-long delay. I've had a rough past few months. My cat was losing weight and it all happened in such a hectic manner. She died on 11th April, from breast cancer and the complications that went with it. I'm still feeling her loss after spending 14 lovely years with her by my side. On a further note, I recently went to a national literature contest and had the chance to meet people who love to write, like myself. It was there that the muse finally struck me again and I managed to pick up this chapter in order to finish it. I hope you like it.
A Wolf's Den
Jorvaskr was the closest thing to a clan compound that Hinata found in Whiterun. The central building resembled something close to an upside-down ship. Stone walls surrounded the compound and Hinata took her time examining her surroundings. Any ninja could jump over the walls but they'd be trouble for the ordinary soldiers that she saw patroling the streets. There were several locations which looked like posts of some sort. They were empty. In fact, despite the commotion she could practically hear comming from the main building, the entire compound looked... barren.
"So why are we visiting Jorvaskr again?" Sven asked.
"The Companions could welcome someone such as Hinata for her fighting skills. It would be a nice start for her, wouldn't you agree, Hinata?" Faendal turned to the Kunoichi, who was busy scrutinizing her surroundings, just as any ninja would.
"U-uhm.T-this place looks e-empty. T-the c-compound was designed f-for a larger number o-of p-people."
Faendal frowned thoughtfully and followed her gaze.
"The war has taken its toll on the Companions. They used to be over a hundred back in the days before the war with the Dominion." Sven sighed and readjusted the straps of his satchel.
There was some sort of tension in the Nord, Hinata noticed, that it was somewhat intertwined with the Companions and Jorvaskr. Sven's eyes hardened as he stared at the building and the muscles of his jaw clenched despite his attempts to hide his discomfort.
"Let's go." the Nord said curtly and went forward with a determined stride.
There was some sort of history behind his behavior, Hinata was certain, but it was not her place to intrude. She said nothing as Faendal motioned for her to follow. As they entered, the three of them were met by a rather familiar type of ruckus.
"Oh my." mumbled the Kunoichi as she watched a tall and muscular woman beat the snot out of an elf man with ashen, dark skin and vibrant dark red hair. The elf wasn't pulling his punches either and Hinata could not help but cringe as she heard the tell-tale sound of breaking a rib.
"You bloody-" the woman heaved as she threw the elf onto one of the tables.
"Are those two at it again?" a gruff voice beside her said and the Hyuuga girl's pale eyes caught sight of a tall and formidable looking Nord. With one blank eye and two identical stripes on each cheek, the man was the very essence of the word intimidating. For a few moments they locked gazes and Hinata opted to stay still as that predatory look scrutinized and judged her worth.
"You dare fight a Dunmer!?" growled the dark skinned elf as he kicked the woman in the stomach. With a painful 'Oomph!' she stumbled backwards and soon enough the elf was back on his feat.
The woman's elbow collided with the elf's jaw and the Kunoichi winced as he splurted blood. With no time to lose, the Nord woman threw her knee into his stomach, returning the favor for that kick she recieved earlier. Hinata knew the fight would be over at any moment. Both participants were battered, bloody and bruised, but the elf had taken a direct hit to the solar plexus. He would lose this fight, no doubt.
"Hinata, nice to see you here. We'd expected you to stop by yesterday. My brother Vilkas could hardly believe us when we told him a pretty little girl like you killed a giant with a single hit."
"I-it is good to see you a-again, F-farkas-san." Hinata bowed politely out of habbit, making the dark-haired man blink in slight confusion. A pretty blush had spread on her face as the other Companions approached the newcomers. Feeling uncomfortable by the amount of attention she was recieving, she ducked her head slightly and started fiddling with her fingers nervously.
"Is this the one that killed the giant? Doesn't look like much."the muscular woman from earlier huffed, looking utterly unimpressed. "Nothing more that a little girl."
"But that little girl was enough to down a giant in a single hit." Faendal was quick to the Hyuuga's defense."Last I remember, the Companions valued skill and courage. Not many would thrust themselves into battle without a second thought." he placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed lightly. He had found that the gesture seemed to calm her and give her courage.
"She used magic, deceit! That is not the mark of a true warrior-"
"That's quite enough, Njada."
Every single one of the Companions turned to the new voice and then made way for the wisened Nord who had just come up the stairs on the other side of the hall. The woman, Njada, looked down as she mumbled her apologies.
Next to the old man was Vilkas. Hinata found it quite easy to recognise him as he looked almost completely identical with his brother Farkas. They were twins. He was thinner and less built than his bear of a brother. Next to him was the viscious red-haired woman, Aela.
"I am Kodlak Whitemane, Harbinger of the Companions." the old man introduced himself. He reminded Hinata of the Third. "And you must be Hinata Hyuuga, the girl who downed a giant with nothing more than a steel dagger. And as the whispers in the streets of Whiterun have it, a survivor of the destruction of Helgen. I take it you and your friends have quite the tales to tell. Please, join us for lunch."
"We t-thank you for your h-hospitality, Harbinger-sama." Hinata bowed again.
"Heh, cute kid." someone mumbled, and Hinata recognized it to be the voice of the intimidating man from earlier.
"The weather is good, so we can eat outside." Kodlak stated happily."Tilma! Prepare lunch on the Porch!"
Hinata came to the conclusion, some twenty minutes in the company of the Companions, that they had a lot in common with the rambunctious bunch that was the Inuzuka clan. Even Sven looked less disturbed by his presence in Jorvaskr, as the Companions laughed and drank and shared battle stories.
The Hyuuga was tenderly sipping on her second cup of Nord Mead, as Ria, the newest member of the Companions, was trying to coax Vilkas into explaining some sort of embarrasing story from when both Farkas and himself were still kids.
"We used to upkeep three separate training grounds, back in the days before the war with the Dominion." Kodlak spoke. "We even had separate stables. That building over there "the Harbinger pointed towards one of the smaller buildings near the rear of the Compound."It used to contain some twenty of the finest beasts you'd see in Skyrim. We lost thirteen during the war, along with many fine Shield-siblings. Brave and noble beasts. It isn't a coincidence that Whiterun's crest bears the likeness of a Horse, after all."
"You should ask Hulda, the innkeeper, about the story of the Bannered Mare." Tulma suggested as she poured in some more mead for Hinata despite her weak protests on the matter.
"Well, now that we have eaten heartily, I think it would be prudent to test young Hinata." The Harbinger of the Companions stated and there was a murmur of agreement. "Vilkas, don't give me that look. Sometimes, the famous come to us. Sometimes, people come seeking for fame. Last I checked, we had plenty of spare beds in our compound. If both your brother and Aela say that she has what it takes, then let her prove her worth."
"Of course, Master." Vilkas bowed his head slightly.
"I'm nobody's master, Vilkas." Kodlak corrected softly and then turned to the pale eyed girl. "Tell me, Hinata, how do you handle yourself in battle?"
"Uhm, I-I have m-much to learn, K-Kodlak-san." Hinata stuttered, her cheeks reddening once more from the amount of attention the Companions were giving her.
"So long as you have the will and the desire to learn and improve, I don't see a problem with that." Kodlak chuckled fondly at her shy disposition.
"Come on, lass. Daylight's burning." Vilkas prompted her to stand up and his tone wasn't exactly as welcoming as it should have been, Faendal noted. He seemed pessimistic about what he had heard of Hinata and it showed in his behavior. It was good, though, that he was actually going to give her a fair shot at it.
Neither Faendal nor Sven felt worried about her acceptance within the ranks of the Companions. The girl, despite her nervousness and shyness, was a skilled fighter. A small, knowing smirk was threatening to spread on Faendal's face and there was nothing he could do about the glint in his eyes.
"What are you smiling about, elf?" Sven narrowed his eyes at the Bosmer.
"For all of Hinata's expertise with small, bladed weapons, her true strength lies in her hands." Faendal explained, remembering vividly their time in the Bleak Falls Barrow.
"You mean to tell me she would be fighting without a weapon? That she is proficient in unarmed combat, like those cat-people, the Khajiit?" Aela raised her eyebrows at that revelation.
"My brother favors a sword and a shield, if she were to fight unarmed as you suggest she would, then my brother would decimate her."
"Elf, tell her to use those daggers of hers." Sven's brows were knitted in worry.
"She won't need them." Faendal insisted, to the bard's surprise. "Just watch. You will see for yourself."
And, indeed, Sven, along with the rest of the Companions, remained quiet and turned to observe the spar between Vilkas and Hinata.
Hinata was well aware of her own limitations and the limitations that were set by her own insecurity and fears. Before her stood a tall and wiry man, donned in heavy metal armor, holding up an equally heavy shield and gripping a shiny sharpened sword.
Her slightly lavender pearly eyes took in his posture. Vilkas presented a tall, hulking figure, not unlike an impenetrable fortress, compared to her own slender and petite form. Vilkas was not beyond her limitations, however. Unlike him, Hinata was agile and light on her feet. She was merely wearing cloth, which gave her plenty of room for movement. Furthermore, she was a Hyuuga, and the Hyuuga were masters of perception. Even though their bloodline was not like the infamous and now quite rare Sharingan, the Hyuuga were still considered the clan that was capable to discern truth from lie and any sort of emotion from the minute changes in stance or near microscopic movement of underlying facial muscles. And they didn't need their Byakugan to be active for that. It was for that reason alone that the clan preached immense self control over their emotions and thus facial expressions. Hinata felt herself a failure in that aspect but she was still a Hyuuga and as such she found herself immediately scrutinizing the man before her.
Vilkas' breathing was even and controlled. Despite his heavy armor, he moved with more ease than one could perceive at first glance. It was obvious that he had trained regularly and fought regularly with that hulking mass of metal upon him. But even so, his muscles were taught and very tense. He held his shield high even as they approached the small training ground right beside the porch. Hinata also noted that his footing was somewhat heavy but well-measured and that he kept surprisingly good balance – he was prepared for an attack at any moment, in any situation.
Vilkas was also scrutinizing her. In fact, he had been doing so from the first moment he had seen her. His light blue gaze threatened to send chills down her spine. While not openly hostile, there was still the promise of something feral, something wild, hidden deep within those blue eyes. Vilkas somewhat reminded her of Faendal in that regard, even though the predatory feel of his person was marginally different than the elf's. Still, before her stood a very intelligent and perceptive man, who was ready to put her in her place if she was not up to par. The concept of that brutal objectiveness on the matter frightened her. And that was just one of the reasons why she felt so uncomfortable in the man's presence. He reminded her of her father.
She was not considered worthy to be part of the Companions. In his eyes, she was weak- either physically or in spirit, it did not matter to him. Her failure would become the Companions' failure and there was a level of unconditional loyalty and something even more powerful within him that bound his beliefs with the concept that the Companions represented. She could compare the sensation she was perceiving in him to Kiba and generally all of the Inuzuka clan. To be without was not to be at all. That had been Kiba's words. Indeed, this concept rung true here as well. The companions were like a pack, Hinata realized. With new-found fascination she took in Vilkas' form once more. Even now, with every motion, with every breath he took, even by openly opposing her acceptance within the 'pack' he was protecting it. And what was even more fascinating was that he was barely cognizant of what was happening. It was an instinct to him to place the Companions first and then everything else.
As Vilkas prepared to strike the first blow, Hinata found herself releasing some of the discomfort she was feeling. She understood what was going on a little bit better, and she found herself on a new, but more familiar ground with her opponent. It was almost as if she was back with Team 8 once more, and she was having a spar with the ever cocky Kiba. The memory flooded her mind and she felt herself be a little more prepared, a little bit more confident. She held her head slightly higher and there was no longer uncertainty clouding her pearly eyes. She was ready.
Vilkas struck the first blow- a lightning fast slash with his blade. Or he tried to. Hinata had side stepped with relative ease, her posture yet to switch to some sort of stance and she was yet to pull out any sort of weapon. In reality she wasn't planning to. Vilkas' jaw clenched minutely and that had been his only visible reaction to her evasive maneuver. Another strike followed immediately but it had been avoided just as easily as the first. The third strike was more of a stabbing, swifter motion.
"Is that all you are going to do? I want to access your fighting capabilities and not how well you avoid getting hit." Vilkas finally exclaimed seriously, careful not to show his irritation.
Hinata did not say anything but kept her eyes trained on him. Her Byakugan was not active as she did not feel comfortable using it in the current situation. Even though it was her birth right, she felt as if she'd cheat on this exam thing she was currently participating in. That woman's, Njada's, accusation still rung clear in her mind. Would her eye technique be considered 'magic, deceit' ? She'd rather not risk presenting herself like some sort of disappointment. Not when Faendal held such high hopes and belief in her. She was fairly certain that she'd be able to defeat Vilkas on her own, without actually using any Jutsu, like her Byakugan, or the Juuken or anything else considered some sort of ninja trick. Despite his armor, Vilkas still had one major weak point, and that was leaving his head out in the open like that. One simple palm strike, if well-aimed, should and would be enough to knock him out. His defense and speed, however, were quite solid. She'd have to time her strike.
With his next strike she made her first move. By now he had been used to her dodging and her ridiculously swift palm strike came almost as a surprise. It had been aimed at his wrist, and while not laced with any chakra, it was still quite painful. The joints were usually not as protected as the rest of the body and she made use of that. She silently commended Vilkas' calm, even though she had managed to get the first hit. It was not, however, a small victory, as many would think in her case. Vilkas merely tightened his defenses and held his shield even more tightly against his body, quite prepared to bash her with it in the rare event she over-extends.
On the side, both Companions and Faendal and Sven watched the exchanges carefully. Kodlak stood next to Faendal and observed from time to time the petite girl's friends, especially Sven, who looked oddly familiar.
"Hm. She's waiting for an opportune moment to strike." Faendal mumbled thoughtfully, more to himself than to anyone else. At first he had found it odd that she had not immediately taken to her usual fighting stance. The veins around her eyes looked normal as well and not bulged as when she used that special eye ability of hers. Indeed, it was odd that she'd fight with such handicap when he had seen her take out many warriors with more than just relative ease.
"Then she'd be waiting for a while." Kodlak responded, slightly startling the Wood Elf. " Vilkas is one of our best. He is especially adept with the sword and shield, not to mention his solid defense."
"Ah, well, Hinata is not fighting at her usual level of prowess." Faendal amended, earning a somewhat strange look from Sven, who had merely seen the battle with the giant. "She fights with blows usually enhanced by something resembling magicka from what I've observed. She has killed people with a single such enhanced strike, heavily armored or otherwise. But still, she is rather..."
"Shy? Yes, I've noticed. It is strange how a person such as her is trying to earn her keep with fighting at all." Kodlak replied, his thoughtful gaze upon the petite young woman.
"She lacks the thrill of battle." Njada stated with a frown.
"And yet, here she is, fighting for the right to be part of the Companions. I take it this was your idea, elf?" Kodlak asked Faendal.
"Ha!" Hinata jumped higher than what normal people were capable of and landed behind Vilkas. He swiftly turned around only to find that she wasn't there. In normal circumstances, the battle would've been over before Vilkas even knew there was a situation going on. In normal circumstances, Hinata would've used her Byakugan and would've powered her Juuken with chakra. However, these weren't normal circumstances and she wasn't home.
Even back on the Elemental Continent, the civilian population had always had a somewhat mixed opinion about the ninja caste. Being ninja carried a certain stigma that made most people wary of them. Being ninja meant she'd get the job done, no matter the costs, because that's what ninja did. And being ninja meant that she'd play dirty, that she'd cheat and that her opponent would never even know what he or she had been up against. Even if she did not feel comfortable with that fact of life, it was her duty to make her Kage and Family proud and to bring prosperity to Konoha and the land of Fire.
It was with these thoughts that she knocked out Vilkas with a single blow behind the head, leaving the companions speechless. She pulled away, conflict and discomfort obvious on her face.
"I'm sorry about t-this." She mumbled as she fiddled with her fingers nervously.
"The squirt knocked Vilkas out!" Njada exclaimed, wide-eyed.
"Well done, Hinata." Faendal placed a hand on her shoulder and Sven came to her as well.
"You are really adept in hand to hand combat, it seems, lass. I've never seen a style such as yours. Where did you say you were from?"
People around her were asking questions, talking to her and she felt her face burn with the discomfort of such attention.
"Now, now, Companions. Let the girl breathe. Farkas, wake your brother, he has to see this." Kodlak spoke as he placed a hand on Hinata's head and smiled kindly at her. " So young and yet so skilled and full of potential. You'd do great among our ranks and I am certain that with time, you will grow out your shyness. Welcome to the Companions, Hinata."
Even an hour and a half after the fact, it still felt so surreal to Hinata. Vilkas seemed to disapprove her method to victory, while his brother kept grinning cheekily at the little Kunoichi. Sven had spoken a few words with Aela and Skjor, the imposing looking tall Nord with one blank eye.
Kodlak had offered the three to stay at the Companions' Compound but Hinata had declined politely on grounds that they had work to do for the Jarl. Still, the Harbinger had insisted for her to come to the Compound as soon as her business with the Jarl was over in order to get her settled as a Companion. Hinata knew he meant to put her to work as soon as possible and the notion almost left her giddy. It would be just like back home, with the Hokage giving her missions. Faendal and Hinata were currently back on the road to Riverwood, while Sven had stayed at Whiterun.
"What is it Hinata?"
"I-I think Sven seemed to know t-the Companions."
"Ah. Not exactly. I think his father used to be a Companion. I'm not entirely familiar with his story, nor do I care for it, but you can ask Delphine the Innkeeper once we get back to Riverwood."
Hinata nodded. It was only natural to ask the Innkeeper, since they seemed to know everything about anyone in their particular region. It was a well known fact among ninja that more often than not Innkeepers were information brokers.