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.
21st First Seed, 202 4E
She waited until we were outside Solitude’s gates to speak her mind.
“I think you’re wasting your time.”
“How do you mean?” The wind was picking up, and I put on my helm before drawing up my hood.
“You have the Scroll. You know what must be done. Why not hunt down Alduin and kill him, while you still have the element of surprise?”
“I’m still not certain that I’m ready.”
She shook her head. “You are Dragonborn. You’re one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met. I know you can do this.”
“But if I do it now, would it be for the right reasons?”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
We hired horses from the Solitude stables, and we were on the road, riding side by side, when I picked the conversation back up.
“I’ve been to Windhelm. I’ve seen how Ulfric Stormcloak treats those of other races, especially Dunmer.”
“I don’t blame him for keeping an eye on the dark elves. I wouldn’t want them running rampant in my streets, either. They can’t be trusted.”
“Not all Dunmer are cutpurses and backstabbers, Aela. That’s like saying all Khajiit are scoundrels and liars, or all Nords are illiterate barbarians.”
She looked like she wanted to elaborate on her opinion, but she regarded me carefully as I continued.
“If Skyrim is to be free, it should be free for all who wish to live here. I’m not enamored of the Aldmeri Dominion, either, but I will not trade a puppet regime for a racist one.”
“There’s an alternative, you know.”
Before she could go on, we encountered what I’m told is a place called Robber’s Gorge. We were ambushed, and our horses killed from under us. The bandits, to their dismay, were no match for the pair of us. Unfortunately, we needed to proceed on foot from there.
“What?” Aela was inspecting her bow as we walked, making sure the string was still taut after so much use lately.
“Tell me about this alternative.”
“You are Dragonborn. The blood of conquerors and kings flows in your veins. Why not unite Skyrim under your own banner?”
I didn’t look at her or respond, at first. That very thought had crossed my mind more than once. But when it did, the voice that carried it was only barely my own. It’s woven into the chant that exists in the foundations of my soul, the one stirred by Alduin and awakened by that first kill outside Whiterun, when Mirmulnir fell and I breathed in his essence.
The day was waning and I could make out the houses of Rorikstead in the distance. I looked at Aela and smiled a little.
“Let me show you something.”
Nahagliiv’s bones remain where we left them.
Just outside of Rorikstead, where the dragon fell, Aela and I studied the sight. She’d been there when we’d slain him, but I hadn’t spoken of it since. I walked up to the skeleton and ran my hand down a rib.
“This was Nahagliiv. His name means ‘Fury Burn Wither’. His is one of the voices that now prompts me to do the very thing you suggest. And if I were to listen, I don’t think I’d be any better than our dead friend, here.”
Aela said nothing. I turned to face her.
“I won’t save this world simply to put it to the torch myself. The sons of Skyrim are owed more than a mere conqueror. I would be known throughout the land for who I strive to be, not merely what my blood demands. I hope you can understand that.”
She stepped to me and took my hands.
“I do. But I still think that we should ensure there is a Skyrim whose sons can learn who you are, as I have, before something truly horrific happens.”
I looked over my shoulder. In the distance, I could barely make out the sky-stabbing height of the Throat of the World. The wound in time was there. My destiny was there. The Elder Scroll felt heavy in my pack. I turned back to my wife and nodded.
“We deliver the horn to the Shrine of Talos, and ask for his favor. Then we ascend that mountain, and we put an end to Alduin’s evil once and for all.”
Aela leaned up and kissed my cheek. “I’m by your side no matter what comes. Remember that.”