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  • Ileji
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    Hello everyone! I’ve been working on a fanfiction over the last couple of months that I’ve uploaded on wattpad. ( if the link doesn’t work use this: https://www.wattpad.com/528545094-lone-wolves-dancing-prologue)

    At the moment I upload every monday evening (CET ) and I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy reading the story, too. Here are the first few chapters:

    Prologue

    ‘Not again’, thought Ylva as she heard yet another blasted dragon as she entered the little town of Riverwood. It was the second one that day and her muscles were still sore. She had just wanted to sell some of her potions in the Riverwood Trader and get back home. Sighing she took out her bow and joined the Guards as scared townsfolk ran past her for cover.

    “Everybody calm down!”, she shouted, eyes fixed on the dragon that just landed on the roof of the Sleeping Giants Inn, “I will take care of it.”

    The dragon inhaled deeply, its gaze fixed on her: “FO KRAH DIIN!”

    She barely dodged the blizzard aimed at her and answered the only way the dragon would understand: “YOL TOOR!”

    The beast screeched as the flames licked at its scales and set off flying.

    “Oh no, you will not get away, you bastard!”, the fierce warrior aimed at its wings, ripping holes through the leathery skin. The dragon came down next to Gerdur’s Mill, turning to face two guards that came running towards it. She did not let the moment of distraction go to waste. Throwing her bow to the ground she grabbed her two axes hanging on either side of her hip. With a short sprint she was at its side, its flank exposed and ready for her.
    “SU!”, left her lips and she felt the inhuman speed with which her axes tore the scaly skin of the beast apart.

    The dragon couldn’t react fast enough and with a final screech the life went out of its body. Panting heavily Ylva knelt beside it, trying to gather a few drops of its blood before its body burned away as its soul was drawn into her.

    “Dragonborn.” The guards and the townsfolk looked at her in awe as the last bits of golden shimmer brazed her skin. She shook herself slightly, trying to get rid of the light headedness she always felt after a fight. Deep inside her she could feel the soul of the slain dragon – raw, could power as if born from a blizzard. Looking at its bones she signed and with a small gesture she set the remains on fire.

    It took her a moment to realize that people were still staring at her. She smiled shyly and gave them a friendly nod. ‘Why do they always have to stare?’, she wondered as she went looking for her bow.

    She found it still laying on the ground where she had thrown it before. Picking it up her gaze wandered over to the inn. ‘Screw it, Lucan can wait till morning, I need a drink.’

    As she climbed the stairs she noticed a tall Nord leaning against the wall next to the door, his honey gaze fixed on her. ‘By Talos, I hope he leaves me alone’, she thought to herself. But of course, he didn’t.

    “So you’re someone who doesn’t lip wrestle”, he remarked, stepping away from the wall and blocking the door towards the inn.

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”, she shot at him, annoyed.

    “Didn’t those two shout loud enough at your back or do you carry your nose so high that you ignore everything a guy says to you.”

    Ylva looked around. Her mind was still on the dragon and she hadn’t noticed the two guys standing on the other site of the road, checking her out. She turned back to the man in front of her.

    “I hadn’t noticed them actually. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I just want to get a pint of mead and you’re in my way.”

    He chuckled at her, bemusement sparkling in his eyes. In a theatric gesture he moved to the side.
    “After you, princess”, he said. She pushed past him and entered the inn, thinking he would leave her alone.

    She thought wrong. When she sat at the bar and signaled Ognar for a pint he sat down next to her.

    “What do you want?”, she growled at him angrily. ‘Doesn’t he know when to leave someone alone?’

    “Saving a beautiful woman from having the dullest of nights.” He looked at her from the corners of his eyes. “Besides, I saw what you just did to that dragon and I might need your help with something.”

    ‘Of course,’ she rolled her eyes, ‘Everybody just wants my help.’ But she brushed her annoyance aside and turned to him. It was her duty, after all, to help the people who needed her. Akatosh hadn’t bestowed her this gift just to use it for herself. The dragonblood running through her veins bound her to Skyrim and her people.

    “Out with it, what do you need help with?”, she asked with a friendlier tone.

    “My wolf Karnwyr. We got separated a week ago while hunting”, his voice faltered at that bit, “I tracked him to a group of trappers this side of Skyrim. I heard of a group of bandits running a pit fighting ring. I would go alone, but if there running a ring there’s probably more than just a few bandits. If you would come along, I wouldn’t complain about my odds, I could certainly do worse for company.”

    Pit fights. Her jaw clenched. He didn’t have to say anything else. She took a large gulp of mead and nodded as the sweat taste ran down her throat.

    “I’ll help you get your wolf back,” She locked her eyes with his, “Under one condition. Don’t you dare think you can order my around or anything.”

    That earned her another chuckle. He grinned at her. “Good, and the same goes for you. I’m not some lackey you can order around. We set out now.”

    “We set out tomorrow”, she stated in a tone that didn’t allow any opposition, “I’ve heard of pit fights going on in the Rift. It’s at least a day’s trip from here and I will not cross the mountain pass at night. Especially after just having fought a dragon. I’ll see you at dusk.”

    With that she left him at the bar and went home to Riverside Lodge. She needed to sleep in her own comfy bed – not some tavern bed with bedbugs and what not. Besides, she didn’t want any company that night. The two dragons she fought that they made her feel restless as she got accustomed to the feeling of their souls within her.

    Riverside Lodge lay just around a riverbend next to a small waterfall. From the porch she could easily overlook the plains of Whiterun. The lights were bright and warm against the dark blue night sky. She took in the sight before entering her home. There were still some embers glowing in the hearth. She kicked of her boots, putting a log or two in the fire and watched as they were quickly set ablaze. It had been a long day.
    “And tomorrow’s going to be just as long”, she sighed to herself, thinking of the Nord she was going to meet in the morning.

     

    Ileji
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Chapter 1

    He was already awake when she came back to Riverwood as the first rays of sunlight colored the sky in a pinkish hue.

    “What took you so long?”, he asked impatiently, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

    “I said dusk. Besides, I wouldn’t want to go leave without having some supplies”, she answered as she strode past him, “Come on, if we hurry we will be there by nightfall.”

    “One more thing princess. Before you try to pet him or get him to lick your hand, Karnwyr is not a pet”, he said, catching up with her.

    “If he’s so important to you how did you lose him in the first place?”, she was agitated by his manners. ‘Talos guide me. This is going to be a very long day.’

    “That’s a private matter.” His eyes went dark as his expression changed into a scowl. She thought it best to change the subject.

    “What’s your name?”, she asked and when he looked at her startled she added, “You haven’t given it to me yesterday and when we are going to travel the whole day at least I want to know who I’m traveling with.”

    “The name’s Bishop”, he answered.

    “An unusual name for a Nord”, she observed, “I’m Ylva.”

    “Let’s just say my parents hadn’t had a good hand at choosing names”, he said, that same dark shadow running over his face as before. Whatever happened between him and his parents, it had left him with bad memories.

    “A name’s a name, nothing more. It doesn’t have to define you”, she remarked and moved forward, him falling behind.

    They were close to Helgen, she could taste the smoke of the fires in the air as they came closer to the ruined town. How long has it been since she saw that big black demon of a dragon fly away from there? Nothing more than a week. Since then her life had changed drastically.

    “What’s the hurry all of a sudden?”, Bishop complained from behind, trying to keep up with her.

    Ylva ignored him and walked even faster, meaning to pass by the town as quickly as possible. He caught up with her when she took the small path going around the town and one look of her was enough to shut him up. She was in no mood for talking.

    They traveled in silence for a time, each looking out for protentional danger. Ever since the Stormcloak rising had begun bandits have been a problem. More than once Ylva had been asked to clear out a bandit camp. Sometimes she even felt that there were more bandits about then people living in the towns and cities of Skyrim.

    As they climbed higher up the mountain path the wind became gradually stronger and snow started to fall.

    “We need to hurry”, she turned to her companion, “Looks like there is a snow blizzard coming our way.”

    “Great”, Bishop muttered, “If it gets any colder I won’t be able to hold on to a weapon anymore. My fingers are getting numb.”

    “With any luck you won’t need to”, she said.

    Ylva draped her thick fur cloak more closely around her figure to fight of the cold and continued walking. Her heavy armor protected her from fatal blows, but it didn’t do much for her in a blizzard. She kept walking and bend forward against the wind.

    They managed to get to the border between Falkreach and the Rift about an hour later. The blizzard was still going strongly. As they came closer Ylva was relieved to see a fire burning in one of the small stone buildings guarding the border point. She went in the building and crouched down close to the fire to thaw her freezing fingers.

    “Ah, that feels wonderful”, she sighed relieved.

    “Just what I need”, Bishop agreed as he crouched next to her. He was shaking quite badly, and his lips were blue.

    “Don’t you have a coat or something?”, she asked him.

    “I’m a Nord, I don’t need coats to fight of the cold. I’ve been living in the wilds of Skyrim long enough”, he shot at her defensively.

    “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m a Nord too if you haven’t noticed and I rather have a coat then freezing my ass off”, sighing Ylva opened her backpack and drew out a fur coat she kept as a backup. “Here, take this.”

    “Didn’t you hear what I just said woman? I don’t need it.”

    “I will not stop every other hour so that you can warm your hands at a fire. It is still a long way ahead. Put it on, will you?”

    Her tone didn’t allow any objection. Muttering under his breath he accepted her offer and threw the coat over his shoulders. Nodding satisfied she reached into her bag once more to get some food.

    “It’s close to noon now, might as well eat something”, she said and offered him some troll jerky and a piece of bread, “If we would have the time I’d cook something, but I understand that you want to get your wolf back as soon as possible.”

    He nodded in acknowledgement and took some troll jerky from her. “Where exactly do you think this pit fighting ring is and how long will it take us to get there?”

    “Its in a cave on the way between Shore’s Stone and Kynesgrove. The place is called Cragslane Cavern. Have you heard of it?”

    “I have. But I haven’t heard of pit fighting going on there. It’s a skooma den as far as I know.”

    “One more reason to clear it out.”

    “Bad experience with the stuff?”, he asked.

    “No, not personal anyway. I just hate what it does to people. If I get the chance to root out at least part of the problem I gladly will do so.”

    Bishop looked at her and for a moment she thought he wanted to say something, but he cleared his throat and his scowl returned.

    “Might as well get to it then.”

    They followed the road around Lake Geir and crossed over at Treva’s Watch. After that they abandoned the road and continued through the woods. By nightfall they reached Shores Stone.

    “We can stop here and rest if you want or we can continue to the cave”, Ylva stopped and turned to her companion, “I would suggest resting and regaining our strength, but attacking during the dark may get us the advantage of surprise.”

    “Are you tired Ladyship?”, he said mockingly, “Do you need to rest your feet? I can certainly go all night, I’m not tired at all.”

    He gave her a wolfish smile, that both annoyed and amused her.

    “All right ranger. I’m no milk drinker and I am certainly up for killing some bandits.”

    The thrill of the nearing battle made her heart pound. She could see that the ranger felt the same way as his yellow eyes gleamed with excitement.

    When they finally reached the cave about an hour later they stayed low to not attract attention to early. There was a scout positioned out front by the cave entrance and to cages with ice wolves close to a fire. Ylva silently motioned to Bishop to take his place on the rocky ledge above the cave. One of the wolves caught her sent and turned to face her. She looked it in its honey eyes, threatening it to stay silent. Feeling that she meant no harm it lay flat on its stomach, watching her with interest as she crept closer to get a better shot.

    Maybe it was the movement of the wolf or some sound her armor had made while shifting, but something alerted the scout and he left his position coming towards her hiding place. Cursing under her breath she drew her bow back and fired an arrow that pierced the scouts leg. Another one hit him in the throat before he could alarm his friends.

    Looking up towards the ledge she could see Bishop looking at her mockingly. She shrugged apologetically signaling him to come down to her. Together they quietly slipped inside the cave.

    Inside was another Dunmer guard, leaning on a doorway to a tunnel going deeper. Bishop took him out quickly with another arrow. Ylva went into the tunnel first, careful of every step to not make a sound.

    On the other side of the tunnel, right next to a doorway to a greater opening in the cave, was another cage with a wolf. The wolf was sitting upright with ears turned towards them curiously and tail wiggling crazily. It clearly was more than happy to see them.

    “You must be Karnwyr”, she whispered, “Wait a moment till I’ve opened the lock.”

    The lock was easily picked and once the cage was open the wolf leaped towards Bishop, almost throwing him over.

    “There you are you mutt! What did you think getting yourself caught so that I had to track you down”, he said, petting his friend, “Let’s play your favorite game, I shoot an arrow in one of these bastard’s knees and you can go rip his face off!”

    Ylva had watched the scene with a smile on her face, but now she noticed the sounds coming from the opening. From what she could hear there were people down there, cheering and screaming at the fight going on in the pit. Signaling Bishop and Karnwyr to follow she tried to get a better look.

    About half a dozen people were gathered down below around a small pit in the middle of the cave with two wolves fighting for their lives. She readied her bow. From the corner of her eye she could see her companion doing the same thing.

    As the first arrows hit their target two of the bandits fell to the ground lifeless. Chaos broke out in the cave as Karnwyr lunged at another chewing off his face as he screamed in pain. Ylva abandoned her bow and reached for her axes fighting of two bandits. Bishops arrow pierced another one coming her way.

    One of her attackers found a way through her defense. The hot burn of a cut on her cheek was quickly followed by the warm wet feeling of blood dripping down her face.

    “Big mistake”, she growled at the bandit that grinned cockily at her, “SU!”

    She could see the slow realization on the bandit’s face just before her axes ripped open his skull. Two other men fell to momentum of the Elemental Fury, their blood dripping of her axes and her armor. Panting heavily, she looked around only to see that Karnwyr and Bishop had taken care of the other remaining two and also the wolves it the pit. Bishop looked her over critically.

    “You look like you bathed in blood”, he remarked, putting his bow on his pack. She whipped her face with her hand and saw the red slickness on her gauntlet.

    “I need a bath, I’ll admit. But first let’s clean up this mess.”

    They found large batch of skooma in one of the rooms that Ylva quickly burned. In another room were more cages with wolves. With a key she had picked up from one of the corpses she opened their cages.

    “What are you doing?”, asked Bishop irritated.

    “Freeing the wolves, or what does it look like?”, she answered unlocking the cage doors. The wolves growled threateningly as the doors opened. Ylva held out her hands to let them smell her. Hesitantly the beasts sniffed her hands and calmed down.

    “There, there. No need to growl at me. Now enjoy your freedom you two”, she ruffled trough their black furs as they made their way past her and out of the cave. She turned to face Bishop and Karnwyr, both watching her with keen interest.

    “What?”, she asked them, “They would have starved if I hadn’t let them out.”

    “I have never seen wolves, especially pit wolves, so easily calmed down. What did you do to them?”

    “Let’s just say I have a way with wolves”, she smiled mysteriously at him, “By the way, don’t you want to check on your wolf to see if he’s all right?”

    “I’d rather check on that vicious cut on your cheek, Ladyship. If you leave it at that you will get a scar.”

    Involuntarily she touched the wound again, wincing as pain shot through her. Looking around she found a silver plate on one of the tables. She picked it up and examined the cut in the reflection.

    The blade had just missed her right eye and went in a straight line down to just above her upper lip. It wasn’t very deep, but the blade had been dirty. Looking in the make-do mirror she could also see that what Bishop said earlier was true: She certainly looked like she took a bloody shower and her war paint was smudged in some areas.

    “I look like a mess”, she exclaimed and lowered the plate. She rummaged through one of her pouches fixed to her belt and drew out a vial with healing potion.

    “Let me help you.” Bishop had come up to her and offered her a somewhat clean cloth.

    Ylva was taken by surprise. She simply smiled thankfully and took the offered cloth. She soaked the cloth with some water from her waterskin and wiped her face with the wet coth. She winced every time she touched the cut, but didn’t make a sound. Due to the rubbing the cut began to bleed again slightly.

    “You’re not doing it properly”, Bishop took the waterskin out of her hands and forced her to tilt her head to the left side. She stubbornly tried to resist, but the fatigue of battle had caught up with her and she was too tired to put up much of a fight. Gleaming satisfied at her he drew the cut open with one hand and let water run over it with the other, washing out the remaining dirt. It hurt so badly she couldn’t help but groan. The ranger took the vial from her and spread the contents over her cut. She could feel the warm soothing feeling of the healing potion taking effect. Turning away from him she took up the plate and inspected the healing process. The cut was gone, only a slightly pink line remained which would fade in a couple of hours.

    “I didn’t need your help but still, thank you”, she thanked him.

    “Well, you helped me get Karnwyr back, so thank you”, he said.

    She smiled at him. “Come on, lets find a place to rest for the night.”

     

    Ileji
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Chapter 3

    They set up camp halfway between Cragslane Cavern and Shores Stone close to the road. Bishop set up a tent while she built a Campfire with branches. Soon she got a nice fire going. Bishop rested on a tree stump, running his hands through Karnwyr’s fur, and watched her as she set up her cooking pot to cook them dinner. With Karnwyr safe he needed to think about what to do next. He didn’t want to go back to track for nobles and he quite liked a bit of adventure. Thinking back to the events of the day he had to admit it had been quite fun to travel with the Nord warrior. She was skilled in battle but talking to her he discovered a smart and witty mind as well.

    Now she was busing herself with peeling potatoes for the stew she was cooking. The fire shone on her pale skin. Without the magenta war paint covering her face he could see some scars on her left side of her face. A beast with sharp claws must have once torn the skin of her left temple quite some time ago. He wondered how old had she been when it happened. She looked younger then himself, he guessed her to be around 23 winters.

    “Do I have something on my face? I thought I cleaned up everything”, her hazel eyes glowered angrily at him.

    “I was just thinking about the day. You were quite impressive, I didn’t think a woman like you had it in her.”

    “I have all sorts of talents, Bishop”, she replied grinning.

    Bishop chuckled, “Well in that case I’ve decided to join you. Who knows what kind of trouble we can get ourselves into.”

    Now Ylva chuckled while she dropped the chopped potatoes in the stew alongside some carrots.

    “Yeah, I will get you in all kinds of trouble.”

    “I’m looking forward to that”, he grinned broadly. Her chuckle turned into a full-hearted laughter.

    “I bet. But don’t complain to me about dragons attacking you. They seem to be drawn to me a lot.”

    He wasn’t sure if she was still joking or not. Though her full lips were curled in a playful smile her eyes had darkened. Ylva shifted awkwardly under his gaze. She hated being watched – it made her extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable.

    “So, what’s your story ranger?”, she asked, more to distract herself than anything else.

    “Why the sudden interest?” Bishop looked at her and raised an eyebrow.

    “Why the sudden suspicion?”, she replied, her gaze fixed on his face.

    “Because no one asks me anything without expecting something in return.” He considered for a moment and then sighed.

    “Bah, fine. Why did I become a ranger? Why anyone else sells themselves. I was raised with the skills. The only difference was that I was taught them to survive, not for profit. Not an honest type of profit anyway. I started tracking seven years before we met. Word got around that I could hunt game for fat lazy nobles and track runaways. They had money, so I became their ranger”, he bent forward, “What about the illustrious woman before me? You’re so nosy about my life.”

    “I was born in Skyrim and lived here all my life. It wasn’t a peaceful life, I was raised a warrior, sworn to Skyrim and her people.”

    She stopped stirring the stew for a moment and looked up towards the sky.

    “A week ago I was on a job close to Helgen. I had just cleared out a den of trolls when I heard the screaming and saw the smoke in the air. When I got there I only saw a pitch-black dragon flying away”, she shook slightly at the memory. Corpses burnt beyond recognition. Houses burnt down to ruins.

    It took a moment before she could continue. “I immediately got on my way to Riverwood and from there I rushed to warn Jarl Balgruuf. Just as I talked to him and the court wizard there came a guard warning of a Dragon attacking the Western Watch Tower. They asked me to help in the fighting. We managed to kill the dragon. But when I got closer to it its flesh started burning away and some sort of power was drawn into me. It is a really weird feeling drawing a soul into you, you know?”, she shot a glance at Bishop, hesitating to speak the next words.

    “Turns out I am Dragonborn, born with the soul of a dragon. Now everybody wants a piece of me, first of all the Greybeards. That’s where we headed to next, by the way.”

    “You mean climbing all the way up to that monastery? Are you kidding me?”

    “Having second thoughts about coming with me, are you now?”, she teased him.

    “No, I just never thought about going up there, that’s all”, he replied.

    “Trust me, me neither. But the Greybeards called me. I bet even the people of Solitude could hear that call. I didn’t want to go straight away but now that were not so far from Ivarstead I think I should. Honor demands it after all.”

    She looked like she dreaded going up that mountain, Bishop thought to himself, or maybe she dreaded what she would find at its peak.

    “If you don’t want to you don’t have to”, he said.

    “Are you kidding? Being called upon the Greybeards is an honor only a few individuals were granted. Honor is very important to me, refusing is not an option. Besides, the Greybeards are able to kill you with just whispering a single word.”

    With a look at herself she added, “Maybe a stop at the Vilemyr Inn wouldn’t hurt. I need a bath. Anyways, the stew is ready.”

    They ate quietly and rested soon thereafter. With the first light of day they woke and continued on their way to Ivarstead and reached the town a couple hours later.

     

    Ylva opened the door to the Inn and smiled at the innkeeper.

    “Hello Wilhelm”, she greeted him.

    “Ylva, glad to see you! What in Oblivion happened to you?”, he replied, looking her over.

    “Just some bandits that were eager to meet my axes, don’t worry. Would you mind heating up some water for a bath?”

    “Sure. Are you going to stay the night?”, he asked.

    “Yes. I need two rooms for the night.”

    “Lucky for you I have two rooms to spare. The usual payment?”

    “Why not. Just get me some time to clean up and eat something and I’ll be your servant.”

    At hearing this Bishop coughed and looked at her puzzled.

    “Wonderful, I’ll get the word out. The bath will be ready in an hour or so”, the innkeeper said as he fetched the kettle from the hearth.

    “What exactly is the usual payment?”, Bishop let himself drop on one of the chairs after Wilhelm left the room.

    “Oh, I’m sure you’d love to find out”, Ylva smiled at him winking, “Don’t worry, you will soon enough. Do you want to rest here for a bit? I’m going to wash of the blood in the river.”

    The ranger was left alone with Karnwyr scratching his head. I’ll be your servant she had said to that innkeeper. He couldn’t imagine she would go around waiting the tables for a room to sleep in. Another idea crossed is mind. Maybe she was a follower of Dibella? But if she was, surely, she would have offered him some services as well?

    He was still pondering the question when Ylva returned a half an hour later. She had shed her armor outside, only wearing a linen shirt and breeches. She dropped the dripping armor on the floor by the fire.

    “Dried blood is a really nasty thing to get off”, she remarked.

    It was the first time Bishop had seen her in anything else than her armor. She had long well-built legs that were toped with a nice round butt he got to admire as she bent over to arrange the armor to dry off faster. Her back was broader and more muscular than most women he had seen, likely a result of hard training from a young age on. Her arms were covered in some sort of tribal tattoo. She radiated an aura of strength that was strangely appealing.

    “Did your Mama never tell you to keep your eyes to yourself?”, she had noticed his eyes on her and turned around, “I don’t like being ogled.”

    He threw his hands up defensively, a cocky grin playing around the corners of his mouth. “I can’t help to look. You’re the most interesting thing in this tavern.”

    A disgruntled look appeared on her face, but she decided to let the matter pass. “I will go through my stuff to see if the supplies are enough for tomorrow.”

    She turned around and went into the small room she had claimed for herself. The door slammed shut with an audible thud. Bishop wondered what had gotten into her. He hadn’t meant to get under her skin. Absentmindedly he patted Karnwyr’s head on his lap.

    Ylva was still in thoughts as Wilhelm came in and announced that the tub was ready for her. Thanking him she took out some spare clothes from her pack and some soap and went to a small private room at the back of the tavern. The hot water was like a balm to her sore muscles and bruised skin.

    As she soaked in the water her mind trailed back to the conversation before. Why had she been so on edge? It wasn’t like she wasn’t used to travel together with others. Or was it the looming shadow of tomorrow? She dreaded going up to the monastery. It meant acknowledging the fact that her destiny was bound, that she wasn’t as free as she wanted to be. Sure, serving Skyrim had always been her fate from the day she was born. But discovering to be the savior Skyrim had waited for? She knew the stories and she knew the prophecy, she had heard and sung the song often enough herself.

    “Dragonborn, Dragonborn by his honor is sworn to keep evil forever at bay”, she hummed to herself. Not for the first time she wondered what her parents would have thought if they’d known they had given life to the potential savoir of Skyrim, the one that had to face Alduin at the end of time.

    In an attempt to clear her thoughts, she washed her hair, rubbing her head roughly and got out. With the help of a small looking glass she put on her trademark magenta war paint, covering her scars. Dressed in a simple blue wool dress she stepped out of the bathing room, her wet hair hanging freely over her back and spilling over her shoulders.

    Bishop was still sitting at the table and seeing the plates and cups he had used his time to eat something. Ylva sat down on the chair across from him.

    “If you want to take a bath, the water is still warm”, she suggested with a warm smile. She wanted to make amends for being so nasty earlier.

    The ranger looked up from Karnwyr and the words stuck in his throat when he saw her. The dress she wore was simple, but it fit her perfectly, showing off the feminine side of her body. Remembering her earlier reaction, he quickly broke loose from the view and simply nodded.

    “Thanks, I might as well”, he got up and disappeared in the room with the tub. Ylva’s gaze followed him puzzled.

    The inn had started to fill with the residents of the small town and soon she was busy greeting people. She was on the lookout for one person in particular and was happy when she finally saw her.

    “Lynly, happy to see you again”, she greeted the blond woman, “Can I borrow your lute? I travel with a small pack and haven’t brought mine with me.”

    “Of course!”, Lynly went behind the bar and grabbed the instrument, “I’m happy if I can lend it to you.”

    Ylva hugged the other woman. “Thank you, I will return it when I’m done.”

    Wilhelm saw her and looked at her questioningly. “Ready to start?”

    She quickly nodded and came to stand in front of the bar, so everybody could see her. Her fingers tested the lute, finding a chord and striking it. With the first sound of the lute everybody went quiet inside the inn.

    Ylva decided to start with an instrumental piece and began to play. Music filled the room, the upbeat rhythm of the song lifting hearts and spirits, even her own. She loved this about music, it put her mind at ease, letting her forget her dark thoughts for a moment.

    Bishop heard the music when he was getting out of the tub and stood still. Whoever was playing had talent and he had his suspicions who it was that was playing the lute. He quickly dressed and came back into the inn, just as Ylva was nearing the end of the first song. She had her eyes closed and swayed with the melody as she was playing, a smile lighted up her face. Transfixed he stood in the doorway. If he hadn’t seen her in armor he would have never believed the beautiful musician being a fierce warrior. So that was how she wanted to pay for their rooms, playing the lute and entertaining.

    Ylva’s eyes opened as she played the last note of the song. She looked straight at Bishop, their eyes meeting for a moment until she shied away. The people in the inn clapped appreciatively.

    “Another one! Another one!”, they cheered. “Sing us about Ragnar!”, came another voice.

    Ylva nodded, hit the first chord and began to sing: “Oh there once was a hero named Ragnar the Red…”

    She had a clear and strong singing voice that was wonderful to listen to, better than any female bard Bishop had ever heard sing. He understood now, why every last person in Ivarstead had come to see her perform. The tiny inn was so crowded, that there wasn’t any place to sit anymore. Well, almost, he corrected himself as he saw his spot at the table was still waiting for him. Karnwyr’s presence seemed to have saved him a front row seat for the performance. He quickly made his way over and sat down, patting Karnwyr to thank him.

    Ylva played song after song, her fingers dancing over the strings, bringing forth beautiful music. She took requests but also played songs of her own whim. The songs she played were cheerful and upbeat, with some slower instrumental once in between so that people had time to get themselves something to drink. That was the trick with performing in inns – she wanted them to get into their cups. The profits of the evening would pay her bed and maybe she would get a share of the tips when she was done.

    “Please play us the song of the Dragonborn!”, a voice demanded. She froze. After she found out about the destiny in her blood she had been avoiding playing that song. But more and more people joined in. Within a moment the whole inn requested the song.

    “All right, but this will be the last song”, she sighed and hoped, she would not falter.

    “Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
    to keep evil forever at bay.
    And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumphs shout,
    Dragonborn for your blessing we pray!

    Harken now sons of snow, to an age, long ago,
    and a tale, boldly told of the one!
    Who was kin to both wyrm and the races of man,
    with a power to rival the sun!

    And the Voice, he did wield, on that glorious field
    when great Tamriel shuddered with war!
    Mighty Thu’um like a blade cut through enemies all,
    as the Dragonborn issued his roar!

    Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
    to keep evil forever at bay.
    And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumphs shout,
    Dragonborn for your blessing we pray!

    And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold,
    that when brothers wage war come unfurled!
    Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound,
    with a hunger to swallow the world!”

    The tone of her voice shifted, she sounded pleading, even desperate Bishop thought. As he realized the meaning of her words he remembered what she had told him the day before – she had seen Alduin. The hairs of on the back of his neck stood out.

    “But a day shall arise, when the dark dragon’s lies,
    shall be silenced forever and then!
    Fair Skyrim will be free from foul Alduin’s maw!
    Dragonborn be the savior of men!

    Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
    to keep evil forever at bay.
    And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumphs shout,
    Dragonborn for your blessing we pray!”

    While the rest of the people clapped and cheered loudly he sat still as if struck. She was the Dragonborn – she was the savior of prophecy. He now understood why she dreaded going up that mountain. Going up, revealing herself to the Greybeards, meant facing the prophecy – it meant facing Alduin.

    Ylva thanked the crowd, returned the lute and came over to him. He offered her a pint that she accepted and emptied in one go.

    “Thanks, I was close to dying of thirst”, she dropped in the chair. The inn was already beginning to empty.

    “You sing beautifully”, he admitted, not wanting to bring up the revelation of the last song. “Where did you learn to play?”

    She blushed lightly and signaled Wilhelm for another round.

    “My da used to sing with me when I was little”, she smiled at the memory, “He taught me to play the lute as well.”

    Seeing her expression Bishop remarked: “Your father must mean a lot to you.”

    Ylva nodded. “I loved him and still miss him, even though he died years ago.”

    “How did he die?”

    “He was a Captain of the Legion and was assigned with overseeing the training of the new recruits. They were ambushed by Stormcloaks as he led his latest group on a scout mission. No one survived”, she didn’t want to talk about her parents as it pained her, so she quickly changed the subject, “So, are you ready to go hiking in the morning?”

    She still intended to go, he thought. He had to admire her courage. Would he do the same if he were in her shoes? Probably not – the world could end and he wouldn’t care.

    “Well, I always wondered what’s up at the Throat of the World”, he shrugged, “We mind as well find out tomorrow.”

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