Iva bathed her scabbed feat in the Ilinalta Lake and winced as they stung. She quickly put her boots back on and walked through the forest. Iva had heard from the people of the Falkreath village that there were a few bandits to be taken care of. The Nord's posture was held back and quiet, unlike the fierce fury of her home. Iva gripped her dagger tighter as she heard voices. Iva could handle a few bandits. When she crept around some piled rocks, she saw two from her position and could hear at least one other talking. Iva crept further around the rocks and lunged suddenly, slicing her dagger across one's arm.
"Ah, damn!" they shouted in surprise. Iva ended up in the middle of the group and her eyes widened. There were six. "Oh, a little vagabond, eh?"
Iva's limbs were burning and yet frozen stiff, her mind screaming for her to flee. A khajiit drew her axe and Iva was kicked into action, barely dodging its swing and sprinting away. "You can't run!"
Wanna bet? Iva smiled slightly, bounding over foliage and fallen logs with a shocking ease before she skidded down a ledge. She made it back to the lakeside, arrows zipping towards her. Iva ran along the White River, feeling a cold drizzle begin to graze her reddened cheeks. Iva yelped as her foot caught in the rocks and she turned to see if her pursuers would grant her any form of mercy. She doubted so but couldn't stop herself from hoping. Five bandits stood before her and Iva presumed the other had stayed back to treat his wound.
"You had us thinking you'd get away!" a dunmer laughed and Iva thrashed, her leg raging as the blood flowed heavier from her shin.
"Get back!" Iva cried out, lashing out with her dagger and missing. The rain was heavier now and pattered against the river rocks. The bandits mocked her as she scooted away. One stepped on her injured leg and she yelped, gripping the rocks beneath her tightly.
"Let's drown her," one shrugged and they began dragging her towards the river.
"N-no!" she yelled, "let me go!" A bone-chilling roar split through the skies and was ignored, not sounding too close. Iva let out another shriek, hoping to maybe lure the dragon over, though she doubted it would spare her. Due to the thick clouds, no shadow passed over them but Iva saw it. Its wings were massive, menacing, and jagged, though Iva could not tell the color of its scales from her angle. Two of the bandits were dragging her to the river and soon her head went under. Perverted fingers grazed her inner thighs though she could hear little of what was happening as she struggled to hold her breathe and thrash at the same. Iva saw a bright fiery light light up the water as her attacker's grip was flung from her, one by one.
Iva felt herself being shoved out of the water and coughed as her head lay on dry rocks. "Dragon!" one bandit screamed and Iva blinked a few times to clear her vision. Indeed a thorny dragon stood above her, glaring with gleaming red eyes at the bandits. Iva's eyes were wide with terror and absolute astonishment as he opened his maw.
"Yol Toor Shul!" he shouted, killing all but the last one. Iva stammered on her words, though had no words to say. Iva laid beneath his neck as the last bandit, the khajiit raised her axe, prepared to end him. The dragon let it hit him, unphased as he gripped the khajiit in his teeth, throwing her and her axe away before stepping back from Iva. Iva felt the rain suddenly in her eyes and covered them with her arm, keeping a careful eye on the dragon.
"W-who are you?" she muttered and the dragon regarded her with an icy red gaze.
"Zu'u Alduin," he answered and his voice terrified her. Iva's eyes widened further and she scooted away.
"So then... but you should be killing me then," Iva sat up with great effort.
"Nid. Nax se jul wah zeymahhe los unslaad paak," Alduin snorted, arching his neck and glaring at her, "mankind should serve the greater, not squabble among their equals." Iva glared back at him before letting out a low groan, shifting her gaze to her stinging injury. The rain seemed it would let up soon though Iva didn't mind the rain that much. Alduin noticed Iva's breath going heavier and snorted, grumbling to himself, "heyv kos ruth. Ah, nid."
Iva felt herself growing steadily colder and became less aware of what was happening as Alduin moved to stand next to her, spreading out his wings and allowing himself to fall. Iva yelped as the dragon laid near her, hiding Iva from anyone's view before he let out a pained roar. "W-What?" she muttered and he flicked her with one of his talons. Iva sighed and took the hint to stay silent. Alduin continued to roar and it wasn't long before he gave up.
"Dov Ah Kiin!" he shouted, though it appeared to pain him to do so and Iva could barely hear him at this point, her vision extremely spotty. Not too long passed before the Dragonborn appeared, though Iva was too unconscious to see or hear it. The Dragonborn stopped, shocked as Alduin revealed Iva to him.
"What in Oblivion!?" The Dragonborn yelled. Alduin growled back at him.
"Take the offer and flee, Dovahkiin," Alduin hissed, taking flight and leaving Iva unconscious with the Dragonborn. He knelt beside her, confused at what somebody so young was doing in the wilds of Skyrim. He began healing her leg before placing her on the back of his horse and roaming away.
Iva awoke slowly and with a scream. She was alone, in a room, by a fire, and that terrified her. "Woah there, calm," a man, strange to Iva, came rushing in and she sprung to her feet. Her knee gave out immediately and she was caught by the figure. "The wound is gone but you're still weak. Rest."
"Who are you?" Iva tilted her head.
"The Dragonborn," he sighed, sorting through some sacks, "you can call me Ysmir. I found you over by White River, wounded."
" And Al- what of the dragon?" Iva stopped herself.
"He left," Ysmir shrugged and Iva nodded slowly. Ysmir sat back down with a few objects in his hands, placing them in a pot over the fire. "He was trying mighty hard to help you. You know why?"
"I was trying to kill some bandits but there were more then I thought and I ran. They caught me and tried to drown me and he stopped them. I believe he said that humankind should not be squabbling among themselves," Iva shrugged, hoping the fact of his name wouldn't come up. After Alduin saved her, it gave her a hope for the dragon. Maybe he wasn't entirely malevolent. "Also, thank you... for the soup and taking me here. By the way, where is here?"
"We're at my home in Whiterun," Ysmir shrugged and Iva quickly gobbled up the soup with a content smile. Ysmir chuckled sadly, "you're a cute kid."
"I'm not that young," Iva protested, "seventeen, going on eighteen."
"Yeah, you're a kid," Ysmir nodded, "but that doesn't mean you have to be defenseless." Iva tilted her head as Ysmir walked upstairs and was heard rummaging for something. He came back down with a sheathed dagger in his hand.
"I have a-" Iva reached for hers and muttered: "must have dropped it."
Ysmir nodded, holding the dagger out to her. Iva took it and thanked him profusely for his services as she inspected the fine ebony. "Where do you get these things?" she exclaimed with wonder.
"A lot of traveling has to be done as the Dragonborn," Ysmir sighed, "and, sadly, more must be done. You can stay here. I have to go to Riften to retrieve somebody. It is likely the Thalmor are already on the way."
"What?" Iva stared, unsure of what was happening.
"Have you heard of the Blades?" he asked and Iva nodded, "well there are two left, in hiding and being hunted by the Thalmor. I have to find Esbern before they do. You could come with if you stay behind me when we get there."
"I can take care of myself," Iva crossed her arms, "though, admittedly, I'm not allowed anywhere in the Rift. Nothing of my fault, I assure you."
"How long has that been?" Ysmir asked as he stood, taking up his armor and attaching his sword to his belt.
"A few years," Iva sighed, staring at the empty bowl of soup far quieter than she had before, "but you should go. I'll just roam the city, I guess." Ysmir nodded.
"Very well. You can stay here until you're more suited to be an adventurer but I wouldn't recommend it at this stage," Ysmir grabbed his shield and put his horned helmet on. Iva took a notice to the hilt of the sword, the hand-guard looking to be a serpent wrapping around itself. Ysmir walked towards the door and left the key, "I shall see you later then."
Ysmir left and Iva unwrapped herself from the bedroll she had been left in on the floor. Iva looked at her weak leg and sighed, relieved that the wound was indeed gone. Iva gripped the chair beside her and forced herself to her good foot. With teeth gritted, she sat in the chair, placing the belt on her waist and looking down at her torn clothes. Iva was sure she had a few septims to spare for some new ones but she didn't dare question where her armor had gone. Iva limped around, content to eventually find a wooden staff. Iva gripped it firmly and limped out of the Breezehome and looked around, closing the door behind her.
Iva hurried to where most were gathered and entered the general store, greeted by a Breton. "Everything's for sale, my friend. Everything. If I had a sister I'd sell her in a second," Belethor greeted her and Iva smiled tolerantly.
"I'm just here for clothes," Iva shrugged, pouring the last of her septims on the countertop. Belethor frowned and nodded and Iva sighed. She knew how it was to be pitied, but there were worse lives to be had, such as the drunkard she had seen in the square. Belethor handed her some clothes and Iva thanked him, hurrying back to Breezehome and locking the door behind her. Iva sat and closed her eyes. Time passed painfully slow. Eventually, Iva served herself food and found herself managing to get upstairs to sleep in the guest room when it was time. She had many thoughts on the nature of Alduin and decided she could think of them in the morning. With no money, Iva roamed the city in the morning and went to the Wind District, finding herself struggling into the Temple of Arkay. Iva liked it there, something that had perplexed the people back at Riften. After all, how could a child so fascinated and hopeful for life be so at ease in places near death?
The priest was there and he looked just as dead as the temple around him, "tell me, do you believe in mighty Arkay, god of life and death?"
Iva quickly sat and smiled, "I know his energies well, the Lord of the Wheel of Life."
"I'm glad to know that, because I need your help. You see, I've lost something precious," the priest nodded.
"What have you lost?" Iva tilted her head.
"My Amulet of Arkay. It's the source of my divine powers and also a sacred badge of office. I misplaced it in the catacombs. I'd look for it, but I've been hearing noises down there. I fear the dead have become restless. Without that amulet, I'm powerless to confront them. Would you be willing to search for it?" he asked.
"Sure. And my name is Iva," she stood, gripping her staff tightly again.
"Andurs. I'll just wait here and make sure nothing foul escapes the catacombs."
Iva completed the task for Andurs quickly and left with some gold as she returned to Breezehome. She saw Ysmir on his way back and smiled, approaching him slightly quicker and greeting him with a smile, "Ysmir-" Iva noticed his grim and tired expression and faltered, "are you alright?"
"Huh? Yeah, I've just learned some... news," Ysmir nodded and they entered Breezehome together, "I have to head out tonight to an old temple in the Reach."
"What happened?" Iva asked.
"Alduin's alive," Ysmir sighed setting his sword by the wall and sitting down and Iva feigned astonishment, though her thoughts were different. So that wasn't common knowledge by now? Have I been away from society that long?
"Truly?" Iva tilted her head, sitting in the chair beside the older man.
"Truly," Ysmir sighed. Whelp,here goes nothing.
"Say, what if he had the chance to be good?" Iva asked, becoming quieter, "I mean, what if he wasn't totally malevolent?"
"Like that dragon who saved you?" Ysmir sighed.
"Uh.. yeah. Like him," Iva nodded slowly.
"That dragon, I'm not entirely sure what has been going on but I did see him, before he called me to you," Ysmir nodded, "he was the one that attacked Helgen and resurrected the dragon at Kynesgrove and by the Nine, that was him?"
Iva froze, "doubt it. Even then, dragon guy didn't say his name."
"I- I need to tell Delphine of this as soon as we get to the temple," Ysmir pinched his brow and Iva could tell this caused his stress to multiply.
"Please, perhaps we can think this out? I don't mean to be a burden but I can go," Iva gestured to the door, growing uneasy.
"No. If Alduin saved you, the other dragons probably won't like that," Ysmir sighed, "do you still want to come with to Sky Haven Temple?"
"Sure," Iva nodded, "but you haven't answered me." Ysmir looked up at her. "What if he wasn't so bad?"
"He enslaved humanity, took us down into a massive war and now he's back to destroy this world. Even if he isn't, he still has to die," Ysmir sighed and Iva opened her mouth to protest. "We should both rest before going then. I'll prepare some supplies for both of us."
"O-Okay," Iva nodded slowly, her heart pounding as she gripped her hands together.