Chapter One

I hate this place.

The only thought that had formed in an angry redguard's mind for the last hour repeated itself over and over again. She was sitting at a bar counter, the smell of mead flittering in the air as it mixed with the smoke gently rising from the fire pit in the center of the inn. Dressed in simple leather armor, though she'd made some adjustments to improve its quality, the woman clung tightly to her tankard. She was leaning over the bar, sitting on the stool and slouching her body over in a position one might take when they were going to vomit.

Desperate to get the last of her thoughts seeped in a drunken haze, the woman refused to let a single sip go to waste. Three empty tankards and a bottle littered the counter space she'd claimed as her own in a rather aggressive manner, glaring at the other redguard woman that had tried to clean up the counter after it had seemed she'd passed out.

Even when it was simply a drunken mess, hazy and warm with strange looking people, the world seemed better than when it was sharp and alert. Where reality couldn't be escaped as easily, and one would have to pay up to their mistakes and failures. Right now, that's not where she wanted to be. Some blonde bard was playing on the drum, beating it every other second to give a nice and steady tune.

She had to admit it was pleasing, nothing like the high pitched flute that just gave her a migraine when she drank. Of course as she began to actually appreciate his not all that amazing skill, he would change things up. The nord lifted a hand as he switched instruments to the lute that was laying against the nearby decorated column, and pointed at her.

"Let's all hear it for the Dragonborn, Savior of Skyrim!" He shouted, instantly gaining a chorus of shouts and cheers from the few patrons around at this late hour. The bard quickly took the opportunity to lead into his next song to be played, one that happened to be the Redguard's least favorite of all he played. The Dragonborn Comes. She thought sourly as the familiar tune began, his not very captivating voice quickly turning any interest she had to at least amuse him and listen gone. However, despite not wanting to, she lifted her tankard as if in recognition and encouragement at their praise, and downed the last of the mead in a single gulp. She knew she wouldn't look good if she didn't, and these people were so judgemental of every little action she made. As the great and illustrious Hero of Skyrim, she now had a part to play as a celebrity and played the part well.

At least, when she wasn't drunk.

I really hate this place. She thought vehemently, keeping her complaints and frustrations bottled up inside as the owner of the inn Hulda walked over. "Yosa'Min, it's great to see you." The nord woman smiled all warm and friendly like.

"Aye." Yosa'Min replied shortly, having to fight the urge to spill the contents of her stomach on the floor. "Can I rent a room from you?" She asked, tearing into the piece of bread she was eating to accompany the mead and help settle her stomach.

Her question gained a quizzical look from the slightly aged brunet. "Don't you want to stay in your own bed at Breezehome?"

"No." Came the quick reply from Yosa'Min, gaining yet another look of confusion from the innkeeper. "I got into another fight with Lydia." She admitted after a minute.

"So the thane gets kicked out by the housecarl? You hear something new everyday." Hulda joked at the Dragonborn. Instantly the drunken woman glared up at the innkeeper, clouded blue eyes doing little to intimidate her considering the way the she looked. Her black windswept hair was disheveled, much like it would be after a battle or a long night of hunting. Bruises, cuts and dirt spotted her skin, making her look as if she'd just returned from some adventure that hadn't gone the smoothest.

Just as she was about to respond, someone tapped her on the shoulder. Yosa'Min turned, instantly a sneer covered her face as she was met with the 'entitled' noble from the cloud district, Nazeem. Her black lips contorted into a deep frown as her eyebrows furrowed at his presence. She'd never liked him, always strutting around and holding himself all high and mighty. Questioning her if she ever makes it to the cloud district and then saying that he was being silly to imagine she ever did. Nazeem was always boasting about how he owned a rather prosperous farm out in the outlying farmlands of the hold. The simple look on his face, smug and ever acting as if he was above everyone made her sick.

Yosa'Min stood up, puffing her chest out in an attempt at looking a little decent. She didn't want to see him right now, she didn't have the time or the mental stability to deal with such trivial annoyances. She stood about five foot three, just under his height and forcing her to look up at his dark eyes. She didn't care though, despite the height difference both of them knew who was stronger. It was her, the muscle tone alone would be enough to convince anyone but just simply the strong features she possessed would also point it out.

Some had called her beautiful, many had tried to court her, and all of them failed. They were nothing but lusters, wanting simply based on her looks and skills. Strong jawed with a slightly rounded and flattened nose, she looked frightening when she was angry as her muscle tone shown. Maybe it was in her blood, maybe it was the wild look about her. Her sometimes described as a lions main hair and the exotic aura she possessed had some kind of effect on people. Surrounding her striking blue eyes, when they weren't clouded with drunkenness, was a sunburst of white war paint the drew attention to her eyes. Typically it would either entice or intimidate someone, leaving them pawns for Yosa'Min's pleasure.

But all of it was lost on Nazeem.

Right now, she could barely stand on her own, clutching the bar counter to prevent herself from toppling. The mead was finally fully kicking in, and boy was it kicking. The world was swirling around the drunken redguard but it didn't keep her from spotting the smug look on Nazeem's face. "This is no surprise, the Dragonborn spending all her coin on average quality mead in an attempt to get so drunk she won't have to face the indecency of her own lot in life."

"If you're talking about my status Nazeem, need I remind you I'm a thane of this hold and the savior of not just Skyrim but all of Tamriel." Even drunk, her silvertongue couldn't be stayed. Each word came out cleanly, her slight accent the only thing identifying herself as not being from Skyrim directly.

"Bah, your status as a thane is nothing but a joke." He frowned, flicking a wrist. "A gift from the jarl for a woman without a single scrap of honor before in her life. We both know what you've done in your life thane Yosa'Min." He sneered her name, turning it into an insult coated with malice as he lifted his chin indigently.

Instantly Yosa'Min reeled, bringing a ringed fist up that made contact with his jaw in a flash. Nazeem grunted, stepping back as one hand raced to his already injured jaw. "How dare you!" He shouted, only to get another response through violence. His gut was met with a firm and swift punch, making him gasp and his legs buckle out from under him. Nazeem crumpled to the ground, gripping his midsection as he laid on the dirty floor in his finery. Yosa'Min wasn't finished however, and picked him back up by the collar of his clothes and glared coldly at his tearing eyes. "Unhand me!" He yelped, and was met with another punch to the gut.

"You disgust me." Yosa'Min spat, and dragged him out to the front doors of the inn. With an angered growl, she hauled him out and tossed him down the steps that led up to the Bannered Mare. The two guards that had been patrolling the marketplace simply looked at them before walking to Nazeem where he lay on the ground. "Don't worry, he'll be fine once his pride heals." Yosa'Min called out, turning back into the inn with a still fierce expression covering her face.

"Well, that was interesting. So you still want that room?" Hulda asked her, stepping back from the counter without another word said of the little one-sided fight. Yosa'Min simply shook her head, to angry to verbally reply. She might unleash a shout she was so angry. The mead wasn't doing her any well, she knew it was a stupid idea to get so drunk, but she had been in some need of an outlet. But now, it wasn't working.

She needed to hunt.

Yosa'Min dropped the owed coin on the counter and turned to walk outside. The inn was silent until she had exited, and the moment she had she heard the gossip spring up behind her. The night air thick, promising rain soon to come with the way it was mounting up in looming thunderheads. A storm was just what she needed to try to push the surging memories aside. Not yet, I need to be hunting first. She thought, knowing full well she'd have to return to her home to retrieve her bow and arrows.

Lydia never allowed her to leave home with them if she was going to drink, the dark haired nord never let her have any weapons when she went out drinking or after they'd fought. She claimed that Yosa'Min was dangerous enough with her Thu'um and fists, not to mention the small bit of magic she'd practiced. Yosa'Min walked down the road until she reached her home, and paused outside. Lydia and she had a rocky friendship, their differences in opinions would constantly clash and the time they'd spent together in order to defeat Alduin hadn't exactly proved to be much to bond over. It was strictly fighting together, and when Yosa'Min would steal in order to get needed supplies, the nord was always quick to voice her disagreement.

After a long moment of debating wether or not she should go in, Yosa'Min remembered that it was her house, not Lydia's and opened it. The smell of something cooking was quick to welcome Yosa'Min, making her open her mouth in anguish. If Lydia was cooking, she wasn't going to get much talking done. Divines let this go smoothly. She prayed silently as she walked in and then headed upstairs to retrieve her bow from her chest. The moment she opened the doors to her bedroom, she was ambushed by a barbed tongue. "Finally home? What trouble did you get into this time?" Lydia demanded coldly.

Yosa'Min turned to see Lydia sitting in the same chair as always at this hour if she wasn't going to sleep, and sighed. "Lydia, really? Right now?" She groaned slightly, cupping her forehead in pain slightly.

"You did something again didn't you?" Lydia lifted her chin slightly. Yosa'Min still didn't understand how she'd managed to get on her bad side so quickly. Was it the fact that when Lydia would shout 'Skyrim belongs to the nords!' when they fought enemies that Yosa'Min would scoff and make some smart remark. In retrospect, that probably wasn't her smartest move in the quest to befriending the nord. "Was it a bar fight?"

After a moment, Yosa'Min lowered her hand and sighed. "Well, not exactly."

"Did you hit someone?" Lydia was acting like a mother with a disobedient child.

"Yes, Nazeem. You know he deserved it Lydia." Yosa'Min's anger resurged at the tone the housecarl was using with her. "That bastard is always pretending he's better than everyone when he isn't."

Lydia quickly stood up, closing the book she had been reading and placing it on the nearby table. "That doesn't matter, you still hit him. How can you act like some hero if you fight with the nobles constantly? And I don't just mean with words Yosa'Min." She crossed her arms, jutting at hip out in a rather annoyed manner.

"Just shut up Lydia, I don't go around telling you how to live your life? I've never done that-"

"Oh but of course my thane! I live to serve don't I?" Lydia mockingly cut her off, her tone dropping as she continued. "I'm sworn to protect you with my life remember? That means I will try my hardest to keep you safe and well, even if it means telling you how to live your life if the path you're on will lead to your own ruin." The nord's eyes had grown quite cold as she frowned at her thane.

Yosa'Min stood still for a moment, her body rigid as she tried to realize what would be the best way to react. Lydia was right, the way she was going was bad. But she didn't believe it would be her own ruin. It was her own life to live, she didn't need a mother to watch over her, nagging and guiding her as if some lost and fumbling child. "Lydia, I'm sorry." She tried to force a smile to her lips but couldn't. "Now I'm going to go hunting, I won't hurt anyone but the animals I catch, and you're going to come with me."

"What?" The last part had caught Lydia off-guard. "Since when did we go anywhere together? Last time we even went outside the city together we had been hunting down a world-eating dragon and that was two years ago." She reminded Yosa'Min.

"I know, and I'm sorry. Grab your bow, let us go hunt, and pretend this fight never happened." Yosa'Min was already opening the chest she stored her Daedric bow with a fire enchantment on it, pulling out her quiver of dwarven arrows afterwards and slipping them both on her back. Lydia used an ebony bow gifted to her from Yosa'Min with a frost enchantment, a quiver full of dwarven arrows slung over her back as well. Without a word they began to walk down to the front door, Lydia stopping to remove the venison she'd been roasting while she waited for Yosa'Min to return from the small pot and placed it in a cupboard for storage.

The storm was threatening to erupt right above them when they walked outside, the twinkling lights of the stars blocked out by the dark clouds. Despite not being able to see the moon, Yosa'Min knew it was perhaps one in the morning, a perfect time to go hunting. Under the darkness of night, they'd be able to sneak on the animals easier, though it would be harder to see true enough. Lydia followed Yosa'Min as they walked outside, past a sleeping gate guard and out into the open plains of the Whiterun hold.

"Smells like rain." Lydia pointed out the obvious, "The deer will probably be upstream then and the mudcrabs a little further from the water." Her words held some wisdom to them, knowledge of the animals' behaviors gained from the many hunts they used to go on.

"Alright then, let us go northwest then and avoid the mammoths." Yosa'Min responded, turning on the path and jumping down the rocks that covered the side of the hill the city Whiterun was built on. Lydia quickly followed, though not with quite as much as ease the lightly armored redguard had managed. They were silent the rest of the way, tracking a small herd of deer from tracks they'd found at a nearby stream. As they began to close in, the mountains blocking the herds escape for much longer, the storm finally reached its climax of building, and the heavens let loose the once trapped rain.

Instantly the redguard lifted her head as she wished to clear the skies with a shout, but the paused. This would be an excellent hunt if they managed to pull it off, and she pulled her bow up as she narrowed her eyes in the tumult of a storm that had began to fill the world around them. Hunting was exciting to her, making her blood race at the prospect of having a game of cat and mouse, and one she intended to win. It gave her time to think or escape her duties, and it was the only thing she and Lydia seemed to both enjoy doing now. But right now, she didn't feel the same energy as she had before, perhaps it was just the mead. Yosa'Min could just see the pale coated herd across an already overflowing stream. "Lydia, take aim!" She called, just able to get the words heard above the whipping wind and pouring rain. The soaked nord nodded her head, pulling up the ebony bow and taking aim at the herd.

The count was to three, not a word being said, both arrows were loosed and sped through the air to penetrate deep into the prey. Lydia's hit the large buck in the shoulder, making him rear up in alarm and stumble backwards on the muddied banks of the stream. Yosa'Min's sailed just as quickly, going straight into its throat and ended the bleeping call it had begun to cry out. The two does and the little fawn scattered, disappearing into the curtain of rain that blocked sight past twenty feet.

The two huntresses walked over, their progress hampered by the ground that sucked at their feet as they crossed the stream. They quickly recovered their arrows, and then began to clean the buck right there. The heavy weight would have been too much to haul back in this weather. "Would you mind clearing the skies?" Lydia requested, only to get a shout in response.

"Lok, Vah Koor!" Instantly the skies cleared, the once looming clouds vanishing dissipating in a mere moment as if their savage attack on the lands was far to expending on it already. Yosa'Min smirked lightly at the way the soaked nord looked, appearing already smaller than normal and haggard. Though Yosa'Min didn't doubt she looked just as funny, her hair flattened from the downpour and the war paint she wore was probably streaming down her face slightly.

"I'm surprised you're such a good shot when you're drunk." Lydia remarked, though not entirely harshly as they finished skinning and cleaning the buck.

"I'm surprised you still know how to shoot." Yosa'Min returned the barb.

Lydia looked up at her, silent and tensed, but then lowered her head as she began to salt the meat to keep it fresh and wrapped it with some leather she'd taken with them. "No thanks to you." She muttered.

They finished in silence, and then walked back just as quietly as they'd first set off. When they reentered Whiterun the sun was beginning to rise to the east, but neither of them were going to stop and admire the gorgeous scene, they were tired. Yosa'Min and Lydia placed the trophies they'd claimed on the table beside the stairs and walked upstairs. Instantly they separated, the housecarl going to her small room on the left, and the Dragonborn going to her room on the right.

I hate this place. Yosa'Min thought as she removed her weaponry and stowed it safely. She took off the armor, already it was clinging to her dark skin, refusing to come off easily. As she moved about her room, preparing to sleep the day away, she knew she'd just end up waking up in a few hours anyways. There was never a night Yosa'Min seemed to get a good nights sleep, a hunger and a thirst for something keeping her awake for hours at a time. Somedays she feared she'd have to use potions to get her to sleep, the thought of it coming to that made her blood chill. She knew part of why she couldn't sleep, it was the memories and the nightmares that haunted her both in the waking world, and in the dream world.

Some of the things Nazeem had said were right, and she hated to admit it, but she really wasn't the most honest woman around. Her words were almost always lies, making it hard for even her to know what was the truth about herself some days. She'd been stealing since she'd first come to Skyrim about twelve years ago when she was eighteen. The memories were persistent, refusing to let her forget the names and faces of the Khajiit caravan she'd been traveling with with her brother while they tried to flee Hammerfell. Refusing to let her forget the sight of bandits pouring out of the trees and slaughtering the friendly Khajiit and striking down her own brother. The terror and helplessness she'd felt as she watched it all happen and then fled into the pines of Falkreath, refusing to look back as her only remaining family member could have been murdered and all she'd done was flee.

Yosa'Min had been lost for nearly a week in the woods, barely able to survive the harsh and unfamiliar landscape of the cold province. She'd stumbled across her brother out of blind luck, and managed to nurse him back to help with the herbs she'd found and using the bit of magic she knew. They had gone to Falkreath to live by then, but her brother Vastin was crippled and lamed, leaving her to look after them both. She wasn't able to do many jobs, the locals were unwelcoming to the two, and she was forced to hunt and steal just to get them by. When she was twenty eight she had been near the border trying to steal supplies from a group of imperial soldiers when they stumbled across her in the act and imprisoned her. They took her to Helgen, along with three other prisoners, one of them being Ulfric Stormcloak.

Yosa'Min had escaped and gone on a quest to defeat Alduin that by the end of it, her brother was dead. She couldn't forgive herself for it, and now two years later she was still broken up about losing him, unable to be the hero everyone imagined she was.

Tears were streaming down her face as she thought about Vastin, her life and the losses she'd faced. Yosa'Min stuffed her face in the hard pillow on her bed, desperate to fall asleep and force it all away. Tonight, she'd visit Nazeem and make him pay for his insults, because he'd done worse that hurt her pride, he'd insulted the memory of her brother. He'd have to pay. And she'd do it the best way she knew how.

Rob him blind and leave him regretting every last insult and snide remark he'd thrown her way.