17th of Last Seed
"I'm telling you, a dragon! I saw a dragon! Big and black as night!" the old lady screeched to her son. Emilia cringed. For an old woman, Hilde was loud. She was more than paranoid in general, but now she was ranting about seeing a dragon in the early hours of the morning. People were starting to think she'd finally gone completely mad. The Sleeping Giant Inn's patrons were glancing over their shoulders at the scene, all three of them.
Sven merely put up his hands in an attempt to calm her. "I'm sure it was nothing, mother."
He winced as she poked him in the chest, hard. "I saw a dragon!" she repeated, poking him with each word.
Enough of this, Emilia thought, putting down the mug she was cleaning and making her way to the bard. She grabbed his shoulder. "Excuse me, I need to borrow your son for a moment," she said, pulling Sven aside. She hissed in his ear, "Sven, you need to get her out of here. She's causing a scene."
"She's just a little overexcited," he countered.
"A little overexcited is fine, just get her home and make her lie down or something."
Sven frowned. "And lose all my tips for the next few hours trying to calm her down? I'd be losing gold!"
"You'll be losing a lot more if I have to explain to my aunt why the inn is empty," Emilia threatened.
"Fine then," he said with a sigh. Then he turned, moving closer to her, a sly smile on his face. "Maybe later we can make up for lost gold?"
Disgusting, she thought with a cringe. She threw her arm out towards the door. "Out, Sven, and take your mother with you."
He scowled back, seeing his advances were getting him nowhere. He turned back to his mother, who seemed to be itching to talk more about that damned dragon. "Why don't you show me where you saw the dragon?"
Her face lit up. "It flew right over the barrow!"
He sighed. "Show me." At that, his mother led him out of the inn, but not before Emilia caught the Nord glancing back, that sly grin back on his face as he disappeared through the doorway.
Nords. Honestly, dragons? There hadn't been dragons in Tamriel in more than a thousand years. She shook her head as she made her way back to the bar, picking up the mug and continuing cleaning it. Bah, she thought, if dragons are real I'll eat this dishcloth.
She glanced at the mug, sighed, and continued cleaning. She was tiring of this, of everything. She longed for days gone by, days spent on the road, traveling, meeting new people, days where she and Delphine were constantly on the way to somewhere. Those were times where she didn't know what the next morning could bring.
The days when her father was still alive…
She felt a heaviness in her chest. It had been years since she'd seen her father fall prey to the Thalmor. It felt like an eternity ago, but at the same time it didn't even feel like that, sometimes she wasn't even sure that the little girl that stood by, helpless, watching her father die, was her. She had tried to help, truly she had. Her aim was true, and she'd given father the opening he needed… but it was reckless, foolish. She could have easily died…
If she would have died there, the line would have died with her.
Emma looked up as she felt the air shift in the room as a group of men, mostly Nords, save for a Khajiit in robes, stumbled in from the chill of the morning air. They were a burly group, their faces were rough, and their armor was covered in dirt. Finally, something to do, she thought with a light smile as she put the mug down and made her way toward the new patrons.
Or at least, she'd been trying to make her way over, instead she cringed as she heard Delphine's voice come up beside her. It had taken years working in the inn to finally get used to seeing the Blade without her trademark armor, and to get used to the woman actually wearing a dress; today's was a modestly cut forest green. "What do you think you are doing?!" the Breton cursed softly, pulling Emilia aside.
"Serving patrons? What did you think?" Emilia snapped back under her breath.
The Blade scowled as she glanced at the table. "They're sell-swords," she said with a hint of disgust. "You know better than to deal with their sort." She made a face. "You are to deal with locals only."
"This is an inn!" Emilia countered. "Strangers come and go every day!"
"And you are to stay away from them! You are to serve local patrons only! We cannot risk being discovered. "
"I have to learn to deal with other people sooner or later Del." Emilia glanced at the table, which was now roaring in laughter as a boisterous Nord wearing steel armor seemed to have given the punch line to a joke. "I doubt they are hunting for me."
Delphine grunted as she pushed Emilia behind her. "You never know."
Emilia groaned. Was this really necessary? Emilia wasn't a ten year old anymore, and she definitely wasn't unintelligent. She could handle herself perfectly fine… but her Blade guardian always seemed to think otherwise.
There would come a day, she knew, that things would change. Her life, her world, wasn't supposed to be like this. It wasn't just a wish. It was like she knew it in her heart. It was more than a feeling, it was a promise that she knew was going to come to pass.
Something big was going to happen, and soon.
"Hey mister, is he gonna be okay?"
Calder ignored the kid as he let himself drop to the ground beside the Imperial soldier, his back screaming with a fresh wave of pain as the burns along his back and shoulders protested the sudden movement. He was exhausted, and the pain was getting worse; though Calder was more worried about the Imperial… what was his name? Hagar? Hadar? Hadvar? That must be it, Hadvar. It sounded right at least. The man had just lost consciousness for the second time in the last hour. The Nord had lost a lot of blood…
His burns brought tears of pain to his eyes. Never had he felt this much pain. Every breath hitched as it forced his skin to stretch, each inhale and exhale bringing a fresh reminder that he'd barely made it out of Helgen alive; in more way than one.
There was nothing else to call it. Calder was not entirely up to date on his research on previously extinct species, but if he were, he would for sure call what he'd seen that morning as a dragon. There really wasn't any margin for error; its gigantic size, its scales harder than stone, its breath spewing flame that consumed all that dared stand before it. The sky had turned black as night, and all Calder remembered was looking into the sky, and the beast landing…
No, he wasn't a superstitious Nord. He wasn't one for their myths and legends of brave heroes fighting against impossible odds, only to achieve those odds, then promptly die somehow from them.
But that, that was… there was no doubt in his mind that that creature was a dragon.
"Mister?" the boy asked him again. Calder let out a groan of impatience as he looked over at the child. He was probably no older than eight or nine. His bright blue eyes were glancing in nervous concern at the Imperial beside him. Calder looked at Hadvar too, and in his chest he felt a pang of regret as he looked at the shallow movement of the Nord's chest.
"I don't know," Calder finally spoke, surprised at how rough his voice was. He moved closer to the Nord. There was a wound in his belly, that much Calder could tell. But he was no healer, all he knew was that the blood needed to be stopped.
He felt the eyes of the child watching him. He gave the boy a nod, and then he pulled a the rag of a shirt he was wearing, much good it was doing anyways. He hissed in pain as the rough-spun cloth brushed against his burns. He then wadded the shirt into a tight ball and pressed it against the Imperial soldier's belly. He removed and shifted the soldier's belt up and over the rag, securing it there for the time being. It would help, he hoped
"We need to get him some help." Calder shifted a bit, wincing as the movement shifted the burns on his back, to look closer at the boy. "You said there was a town nearby?"
The boy nodded. "Riverwood."
"Do you know how to get there?"
"Y-yes, my papa used to work with the lady that runs the saw mill there," the boy said sadly. "We used to go there all the time, it's not far."
That was the first time the boy mentioned even having family. Calder sighed. He'd nearly forgotten, that place had been the boy's home, not just an Imperial stronghold. He watched as the boy sadly watched his feet like they were the most interesting thing in the world. "Hey kid," Calder said, putting on a light smile, "what's your name?"
Calder let out a smile as he pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the complaints of his back. He grabbed Hadvar, rousing the Nord from his rest, and draped his arm over his shoulder. He hissed in pain as the weight of the Nord pressed against his raw shoulder, but he could tolerate it long enough if it meant survival. "Well, Haming," he said with a grunt as he adjusted his grip on the Imperial soldier, "my name is Cal." The boy looked at him with wide eyes, and Calder just kept his grin going. "Lead the way."
The boy nodded and started down toward a path that Calder could see in the distance. Good then, he thought, at least then we won't be trekking through the wilderness. Calder started hobbling along behind the boy, Hadvar was awake, but weak. He did not speak, but Calder could feel as the poor man tried to walk alongside him. "Just keep walking," he told the Nord, "that's all you have to worry about."
At least, that was until the rain started…
"By Nocturnal! Really?!" he growled under his breath.
Thunder rolled in the sky as the last patron left the inn. All in all, it had been a quiet night. Beside the mercenaries that had passed by earlier in the day, there were no new visitors to the Sleeping Giant Inn, both a relief, and, well, a tad boring.
Emilia closed the door behind the Sven, who was talking the entire way as she pushed him out the door and latched it shut. Would that damned bard ever learn?
Emilia made her way back to the counter to finish clearing the dinner trays from the night. Delphine joined her. "The door locked?" the Blade asked.
Emilia nodded, picking up another mug to clean.
"You know I only am trying to protected you, I promised your father."
Emilia scowled. "How about you protect me from what I actually need protection from and not from the entire world?"
"Emilia," Delphine started with a sigh, "you never know-"
"-who people really are," Emilia finished, rolling her eyes, which only seemed to anger her Blade guardian further. "I get it. Everyone's a damn conspirator."
"Not anyone, no, but being careful is what has helped us survive as long as we have."
Emilia groaned and was about to respond when there was a loud pounding on the front door. She looked at Delphine, who stood, her finger over her lips in a gesture for silence. There was nothing but the rain for another minute until once again came three solid pounds on the door. They weren't calm, no… If Emilia had to guess, she'd say that they were made in desperation. They continued pounding as a lump grew in Emilia's throat.
Delphine put down the mug she'd been cleaning, and made her way to the door. Emilia was on the Breton's heels, looking over the woman's shoulder. The Blade paused at the handle, which was shaking with each and every rap on the door. One hand went to the dagger at her belt and the other went to the latch. In a smooth motion she removed the lock and opened the doors.
Emilia couldn't help but let out a breath.
An outline of two haggard forms stood in the door way, drenched in rain and blood, one supporting the other. One was obviously unconscious, and the other, a young Nord by his appearance, was in great pain. He looked relieved at the sight of Delphine and Emilia in the doorway. He gave a quick smile, followed by a painful grimace as he stumbled forward a bit as he struggled to remain upright. Emilia couldn't help it, she reached out to him, steadying him with a gentle hand on his shoulder. He looked at her with stone grey eyes. "Help," he managed to grunt out before he fell to his knees.
Thanks to those that reviewed since my last posting! WolFang101, Lord rage quit, Turambar - Turun Ambartanen, Fanfiction Bard, Duesal 10, Jouaint, Epicnick101, wolf, J. APPLEGATE, Goldmaedchen, Genesis011, Daedric Prince of Madness, Percy Jackson the Dragonborn.
Yes, I know it has been a long time! You have no idea the curve balls that life has been throwing at me lately, it's insane.
Hopefully, now I can get back to writing again!