This is my first fan fiction. Comments & critiques are both welcomed and encouraged.

Thanks Tomed Ceht for the encouragement!

She rested her head in her hand. What a week she thought to herself. Time had been slipping by her since she left Jorrvaskr over three months ago. She sighed, why was it every time she laid her head down her thoughts turned back to Aela and their fight. She wiggled around a bit more, trying to get comfortable on the rocky floor.

She looked over at the pile of wood. It was damp in this old mine, and she silently willed the flames in her hand to ignite the small pile of wood. She tried in vain to get more comfortable and push that day from her thoughts; push Aela from her thoughts.

Her beast blood never gave her much time for rest, nor did it ever let her get a good night sleep, but she loved her wolf spirit. It was her constant companion and helped her quell the stirring she felt in her soul. A stirring, which as time passed, became harder to ignore.

I think maybe it's time to go back to High Hrothgar soon. I need some peace and to spend much needed time with my kin again.

She looked at the flames and watched them dance, trying to let sleep steal over her. The rain outside kept drawing her attention back to the door. But, her thoughts drifted back to Aela; to their last conversation or rather, their argument over this infernal war. She closed her eyes in remembrance …

"You are Dragonborn, Azriel! The Nordic hero of legend! You should be on our side, fighting the Thalmor bastards and the Empire, not helping them! " Aela had lost control of her temper.

Azriel rolled her eyes "Aela, How many times do I have to say it? Ulfric Stormcloak is a racist, hateful, asshole. I will not take his side. I have no loyalty to the Empire, and I cannot fathom why you fail to see that this is simply a power grab on Stormcloak's part. He doesn't care about anyone but himself and is using Talos as a reason for Nords to follow him."

"Nords are a proud people; we deserve the right to worship Talos!" Vilkas jumped in, his brother Farkas nodding in approval.

"I realize that Vilkas. But do you three have understanding of what would happen if Ulfric Stormcloak were to rule Skyrim as High King?" Azriel responded.

"Skyrim is for the Nords, Azriel!" Aela exclaimed. "We should rule ourselves, not the Empire, and not those damned Elves."

Athis cleared his throat quietly in annoyance.

Aela ignored him and continued, "Kodlak wouldn't let us fight on the side of the Stormcloaks. But he's gone, and things are changing fast. We need to be free of the Thalmor agents arresting Talos worshipers, and destroying Daedra worshipers. We are trapped under the boot of those ice brained, boot licking, Imperial milk drinkers! "

"Lest you forget, I am an Imperial Aela." She had responded under strain to keep her cool.

"I know that Azriel, and you know what I mean also." Aela looked uncomfortable after her outburst.

"So you would see your Shield Siblings Ria and Athis in chains? You know that I've already had my disagreement with that bastard. And you know for a fact he wants my head on a pike!" snarled Azriel.

Aela, fuming, remained silent while the rest of Jorrvaskr stood watching the two women argue slack jawed.

"Before you snowberries go running off to fight for Ulfric Stormcloak, I suggest you watch how he treats those in his own city. In his own hold! That is how he will treat everyone. The Argonians aren't allowed in the city of Windhelm, the Khajiit skirt the hold, and the elves live in squalor. Redgaurds aren't welcome in the city and there aren't many Imperials that live there … for a damned reason. Yet, you are willing to throw Kodlak's memory to Oblivion. He didn't want you involved for a reason. But, I'm not Kodlak, so you can go running off to your war of ideas and to the side that will make you put your Shield Siblings to the sword or in chains! "

She had lost her temper. It took some doing, but fighting with the three of them had sent her over the edge, especially arguing with Aela. With that she had walked downstairs and tossed her wolf armor aside, grabbed her other things, and left Jorrvaskr. She saw an equally disgusted Athis and Ria outside on the front steps.

"We are going to run some jobs for a while Azriel. We'll be back … later." Ria said quietly.

Azriel had only nodded in response.

She rubbed her eyes, the memory seeming like yesterday. It made her blood boil thinking how the Circle had argued. Kodlak's death had been a blow to them all and the remaining Circle members had wanted to restore glory to the old mead hall.

Farkas and Aela had been her best friends and Aela had been more than that; but that didn't matter now. It didn't hurt any less, and she knew she needed to stop pondering it. She and Aela had been close, and Aela had always tried to understand her loneliness, her frustration, and her desires; Azriel never having to say a word to her. That's what made all this so difficult in her mind and in her heart. They weren't just her shield siblings and she was their Harbinger, they were her family of close friends. Nothing was ever hidden between them.

But why they were so attached to the Stormcloaks was beyond her, and it was obvious they couldn't see Ulfric Stormcloak for the real horses' ass that he was. Their collective Nord pride getting in the way of thinking about it, she guessed. She honestly didn't know.

She worked her way over to her temples to massage out her frustration; her wolf spirit was pacing in her mind. She knew sleep wouldn't take her anytime soon and it had been a while since she had let her out. There was a Forsworn camp not too far from the mine. She posed the question in her mind and a long howl answered her. She smiled as she rose; it was hours before the sun would rise. She stepped out of the cave and transformed.

She ran hard and fast from Soljund's Sinkhole, towards Karthspire camp. The miners earlier that day had marked it on her map after she'd helped them with their little undead problem. She ran in her beast form now, past the sleeping guard, toward the camp. The Forsworn didn't stand a chance, and her wolf howled in agreement. Off the rocky crag she leapt onto the Hagraven below, ripping and shredding her to pieces. The Forsworn attacked savagely, yet individually. Each falling before her claws and teeth. Her blood lust driving her farther into the camp, her beast not yet sated.

A Briarheart and Ravager stepped out of a tent, just as she finished her last kill. Before they could draw their weapons, she launched herself at them. In a moment of time, it was over. She had decimated the sleepy camp, most before they could even pull their weapons or get out of their bed roll.

She transformed back to her Imperial form and looked around. It was the perfect vision of carnage. She smiled and started the short walk back the mine. Maybe now she could get some rest.

She laid back down in the mouth of the mine, this time she didn't bother with the tiny fire. Leaving the doors open was rather relaxing. After the full day, and a couple hours for stretching her legs she drifted off to sleep.

The swirling ebony swallowed her, surrounding her in its cold endless grasp. Constricting smoky tendrils twirled around her, touching her in their gloom. She moved through this substance that felt both like silk and yet like water, but didn't seem to move at all. She had no awareness of her mortal form. She realized she was dreaming.

Glowing golden eyes blinked into existence, and followed her. They seemed to trace her very soul, outlining it in quivering fear. The deep voice surrounded her, shaking her very being.

'Dovahkiin, you think you can so easily escape me? So easily hide?'

'Be gone Worm, I have already defeated you, and you are not welcome in my dreams' her Thu'um causing the tendrils to recoil momentarily.

Its laughter was like the roar of a storm. 'Ahziial alok ahrk keyaam hein golrah. You fail to see, we are one…YOU CANNOT HIDE!'

The dragon's shout was so deafening, she jumped awake. The sun was low in the sky; the morning was young. She wiped the sweat from her face. The dragon's Thu'um rattled her skull so badly she had an instant headache. Even in her dreams, Alduin haunted her. Alduin was the only black dragon she had ever known. The dragon in her dream's Thu'um was much stronger than his, stronger than she remembered it being.

She ran her calloused hand down her scarred cheek and looked around the mine entrance and back out the door. It was time for her to leave; the miners would be going to work soon. She stood up, strapped on her sword and grabbed her enchanted ruck sack and walked out the door.