Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and apologize in advance for what may turn out to be only passable fan fiction as I write down stuff that goes through my head as I play this game. Also, the following does contain spoilers for the game. Fairly be ye warned.
18th Morning Star, 202 4E
Since coming to Skyrim, I’ve faced many challenges. I’ve faced down wolves, bears, trolls. I’ve taken on a veritable army of draugr and more than my share of hagravens. I have laid waste to bandit encampments and strongholds alike. I have slain dragons. I have saved the world on at least one occasion. And yet, yesterday morning, I felt more edgy and nervous than on any of those occasions.
Aela, of course, knew something was on my mind, and asked me about it immediately.
I remember the first time I saw her. Fresh from my aborted execution, on the run and confused from Helgn, she glanced at me with narrowed eyes while she fought that Giant outside Pelagia Farm. I’d met Nords before, but to see one such as her in her native environment, full of beautiful ferocity and unwavering bravery, I was struck, even then. She said nothing of my magic but I could feel her suspicion. Now, as a Companion, and chosen by Kodlak Whitemane to succeed him as Harbinger, her eyes were not suspicious, but concerned.
“I’ve been thinking,” I managed to begin.
“You do that quite a bit, for a Companion. Maybe that’s why Kodlak chose you.”
“He could have chosen you. You were close. He trusted you. You ran by his side many nights.”
Aela shrugged. “What could be is not what is. I’m more concerned for you than I am for Kodlak. He is in Sovngarde. You are here.”
“And so are you.” I cleared my throat. Why was this so difficult? “I keep thinking of how I came to be here, of that day at the farm when we met. Do you remember?”
“I do.” She smiled a little. “I thought this spindly little mageling had a surprising amount of balls, standing with us against a Giant.”
“And I found you more dangerous than that Giant, to be certain.”
“Yet you stood by me and helped take it down. You’ve stood by me many times since then.”
As she spoke, Aela noticed the metal glittering under my tunic. Without prompting, she pulled out the amulet, and looked in my eyes.
“You know what wearing Mara means, don’t you?”
I nodded. “The priest in Riften told me. The question is, Aela, do you know why I wear it now?”
There was softness, there in her eyes, that I had not anticipated. Her fingers lingered near my chest. “I won’t lie. I’d like that.”
“I won’t lie either. I want you for my wife.”
She smiled. “Then it’s settled. We should go to Riften immediately. Times like these, to dally is to waste precious moments.”
So we did. We made the arrangements at the Temple, and the delighted priest admonished me not to be late for my own wedding. We rented a room at the Barb and Bee for the night, but Aela was restless. It was her nature. Her blood ran as hot as ever.
“You know what we should do?”
She turned and looked at me. It was an incredulous gaze, anticipating some sort of arcane scheme worthy of the Archmage of Winterhold.
“We should hunt.”
She blinked. I smiled. I was glad I could surprise her.
“On the eve of our wedding?”
“Can you think of a better way to spend it?”
Her smirk was coy. “Connor, you do know the way to a lady’s heart.”
So it was that we found ourselves north of Riften, stalking wolves, her with her bow and I with my Skyforged blade. Its edge softly glowed with the electric energy with which I’d enchanted it. Eorlund disapproved of my doing so, but nobody denied the results. I was watching Aela, taking in the way she matched the wolves move for move, until they bolted. She looked back at me, wondering perhaps if I’d made too much noise, and then her eyes lifted and widened.
I don’t know how it snuck up on us. They’re not known for being terribly sneaky or subtle. But the dragon plummeted out of the sky on us, and my Skyforged blade flew from my grip. I brought up my dragonbone shield, and seeing it and that I was armored in the stuff, the dragon was incensed. I looked in its eyes and, in that moment, as it always was when I fought the Dov, we knew one another. His body pinned mine and his jaws snapped at me. My other blade was far from my hand, strapped to my back, and I was too distracted to summon Magicka. I struggled, smelled the fetid breath, closed my eyes.
I heard Aela’s howl. By the light of the moon, I saw my bride-to-be leap across the dragon’s snout, raking him with her claws. I had banished my own wolf-spirit to settle a conflict within myself, but Aela was as comfortable as ever wearing her two disparate skins. Now she wore the skin of Hircine, the skin of the werewolf, as she protected me and distracted the dragon. He wheeled on her, leaving me half-pushed into the muck, taking a deep breath and bathing the foliage in blue fire. Aela was quick, dodging away, roaring in defiance. The dragon snapped at her, swept in with claws and wings, finally catching her with his tail. It was when Aela was knocked away that I properly introduced myself.
The words Paarthumax had taught me took shape in my mouth and issued forth as orange flame. The dragon staggered, turned, and stared. Now on my feet, I reached over my shoulder and drew Dragonbane, the sword of the Blades given to me by Esbern. I gripped my shield and charged. Dragonbone met dragonbone with a mighty crash, and Aela was slicing into its hide with her claws. But dragons are cunning, and he knew there was a bond between us, the way we each leaped to the other’s defense. When Aela sprang again, the dragon spun and swept out his tail, grabbing Aela’s ankle and slamming her back into the ground. He faced away from me, and even if I got his attention, I didn’t know how badly he would hurt her with his back claws as he turned.
Time itself stilled at the sound of my voice. I dropped my shield, ran as fast as I was able, and with my free hand I scooped up the werewolf from where she lay. I shoved her with as much strength as I could muster. I then backed away, as time once again flowed, as the dragon’s jaws closed on empty air. Aela hadn’t yet moved from where I’d pushed her. I swallowed my fear and looked up at the dragon, backing away slowly. My foot glanced off of Skyforged steel, and I bent to hold my Companions blade in my off-hand. Dragonbane seemed to gleam in the moonlight. The dragon leapt into the sky, blanketing the forest in fire. I ran, sheathing my blades, picking up Aela and running from the inferno. The dragon landed directly in front of me. I bent to lay Aela aside and stood between her and my foe. He inhaled, glaring eyes full of hatred, nostrils flaring as he prepared to breathe again.
“FUS RO DAH!”
The first shout I’d ever learned, one of my most powerful weapons, caused the dragon to lose his footing and slide down the hillside. Blades came free of their scabbards and with the mightiest cry I could muster, I leapt down after it. I slashed across his snout, ensuring I had his full attention. He roared at me, and I roared right back. I stabbed him in the cheek with Dragonbane, pushing myself upwards using the blade as my fulcrum. Landing directly between his horns, I brought my weapons down with all of my strength. Scale, muscle, and bone gave way under the strike and the dragon twitched violently as life fled from his body. Gasping for breath, I pulled my blades free and slid down the side of his still face, returning my blades to their homes. I looked up at the moon and closed my eyes as the wind came over me, carrying the voices of the Dov with it to fill my ears and my soul, telling me this Dovah‘s name and adding his voice to my own. When it was over, and nothing but his bones remained, I turned to see to Aela.
“No wonder they sing songs about you.”
She was already there, clad only in moonlight, holding my shield in one hand and her own axe in the other. Bruises and scratches did nothing to slow her as she made her way down the hill to me. I tipped her chin towards me and tasted her kiss for the first time.
“After tomorrow, I will take this dragon’s scales and make you something special.”
“You already gave me something special.” Aela’s gaze didn’t break from mine. “I’m going to spend my life giving you all I can in return.”