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A Fine Rug

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Somewhere nearby, in a world much like yours... a screen flashed an error screen, angrily flashing the words "Memory File ERROR... Restart?" 

But at that moment, the screen changed again. And the game began...

*****

Head hurt... It was dizzy... Pain... Squeaking...

Blinking, a fuzzy nose twitched and the sound of clopping hooves and creaking wood was identified as a carriage. 

The death carriage. No. The starting carriage. 

Wait... 

Khajiit knew this... 

No, that's not how she talked. She was supposed to... but it wasn't...

There were others in the carriage. Rolaf. Ulfric. Lokir. But Lokir would die... right? No... Yes. She'd seen it. No. It hadn't happened... right? He was alive. No, an arrow...

"Hey, you. You're finally awake." Rolaf spoke, then explained their capture when crossing the border. 

Lokir and Rolaf began arguing and Rolaf introduced Ulfric, where Lokir realized they were heading for death and begged the Gods for help. 

She wasn't supposed to speak. No. Only what was needed. No... She could. She needed to. 

"We need to run." She said as they traveled past the gate of Helgen, "Dragon." 

The three turned to her. 

"I've... never heard a Khajiit speak... normally." 

She felt her ears lower at the racist remark. 

They wouldn't listen. They weren't meant to. But his remark... was strange. Different. Not in the code. Code? What code? 

Slowly, tensions rose as the four prisoners stepped out of the wagon. Lokir screamed at the Imperial soldiers and began to run. 

"ARCHERS!" The captain cried. 

She's seen this. He's dead. She guessed it. 

How... 

No. It didn't matter. Had to focus. Dragon was going to- 

"YOUR NAME! I asked who you are!" The soldier in front of her screamed. 

Her ears flicked. 

Something else was supposed to happen here. She closed her eyes and a flash of what she looked like popped in her mind's eye. Her fur was mostly a silvery white, with dark stripes on her arms and half of her face had a dark patch, giving her a half and half look. A tiny claw mark rested above her pink nose, and her eyes were an icy blue with slitted pupils. 

"J- Jaylay." She said softly. 

More differences... 

"Captain... She's not on the list." 

"Forget the list. She goes to the block." 

The Khajiit blinked. 

"Mistake," she whispered. 

She had seen it before, had been frozen, forced to watch, but this time, she turned away. They couldn't defend themselves... it was dishonorable, and she wanted to give the stormcloak soldier the respect as he died. 

The sky flashed and there was confusion from everyone.

"The Khajiit is next!" 

Her legs moved without her wanting. It would be fine. It would be fine. Right? It was just like the other times. 

Her tail drooped lowly, brushing against the ground as she felt someone push her back down onto the block. 

Her head turned to watch the executioner raise his axe. But before he could swing it down, a enourmous, spikey black beast with red, evil eyes let loose a thunderous word, the force of his voice knocking the executioner down. 

The next few minutes were a blurred confusion of running and following voices. First was Rolaf, the stormcloak, then Halvar, the imperial, but eventually they faced off and Jaylay had to choose who to follow before the dragon ate her. She chose to follow Ralof, as he was the closest to her. 

Inside, Ralof cut the ties around her wrists and explained that the armor on another soldier nearby would be more of a use for her than him. 

Silently, she unbuckled his armor and peeled the stiff, bloody cloth off his smelly body. 

Her ears lowered in disgust as she felt the dry blood on the inside of the cloth stick to her fur. It was better than the rags she had worn, however. She picked up a simple iron sword and gave it a few swings. 

It felt heavy and her movements were sluggish, even in light armor. Visions flashed behind her eyes of her using dragonbone swords professionally, swinging them around and chopping off heads of enemies. But that was at a different time. She'd have to work on her strength and stamina later to build it up to what she was envisioning. For now, she followed Rolaf as two imperials let out battle cries, aiming to hack at them both. 

Jaylay dove to the side clumsily, uneasy on her feet. She's work on her speed and grace later. For now, she had to prevent this soldier from slicing slivers into her flesh. 

With a groan, she spun around, and blocked his downward swinging mace with her sword, watching it bounce off, making him stumble. She didn't want to kill him. His eyes spoke of rage, but that determination was driven by a stranger's mind. A mind that thought of a lover, perhaps of children, of hopes, of dreams, and of life. 

He swung at her again, but she knocked his mace to the side with a swing of her own sword. 

"Don't do this. You don't want to kill me." She muttered. 

He bared his teeth angrily. 

"You'll make a fine rug, cat." was his only response. 

Her ears pinned back, and with a flash of anger in her eyes, she launched at him, sending her sword into his gut. He froze, gasping before a spurt of blood shot from his mouth in cough, and he fell to the floor, dead. 

Gasping in shock, she looked down at her bloody sword, her arm shaking from the weight of both the metal and her dark deed. 

"It's better him than you," Rolaf spoke. "It gets easier, soldier." 

She didn't want it to get easier. She'd hacked down thousands of bandits, killed armies of both sides, slaughtered innocents out of no reason. Boredom of the one who controlled her... She wanted it all to be over.

Ruefully, she sheathed her sword and followed Rolaf through the crumbling fort, and when soldiers appeared, she tried to reason with them, but all they saw was the blue of her armor. 

Killing three more people tore at her morals, but she had to survive. She couldn't come back again. Come back? Yeah... She'd done this many times. She'd... died. No more. She couldn't. 

Her fur rose on her arms. 

"Are you alright?" 

She only nodded, focusing on her rag covered feet as they slipped over the stones in the tiny stream. 

"It looks like there's a bear up ahead. I'd rather not-" 

"I got it, I got it. Try to sneak past." 

The blonde seemed offended by being interrupted but snapped his mouth shut. 

Carefully moving forward, Jaylay crouched watching the black mass of fur as Rolaf followed her. As soon as they were out of sight, Jaylay lept through the cavern opening, into the light. 

"Wait! Get down!" Rolaf cried, pulling the Khajiit's tail to stop her from going forward. 

Hair bristling at the immense offense, she whipped around, claws striking out against his shoulder just as Alduin roared as he flew over them. 

"Watch it!" Rolaf cried in a whisper, eyes cast up at the black dragon. 

Jaylay ripped her tail out of his grip. 

"Do. Not. Grab my tail again." She hissed. 

"I meant no offense. There was a dragon-" 

"It wouldn't have stopped! It killed enough in Helgen! Why would it stop of two extra tiny morcels!" 

He huffed at her logic but changed the subject. 

"There's a town called Riverwood not far. My-" 

Jaylay had tuned him out at this point, already skipping over the cobblestones toward Riverwood. She knew the way. 

Rolaf managed to get beside her as he walked, talking about the rebellion and asking her to join. 

She only huffed in response and said softly, "I'll think about it." 

After fighting a small pack of wolves and watching a large deer spring over the road and into the river, a cozy little town on the river. 

Rolaf let Jaylay to a little house and his sister's family, and a little boy and a dog rushed up to say hello to their uncle. 

Jaylay's ears twitched at the sight of a child. Her heart always wanted to adopt. She couldn't have any of her own. She didn't know why or how, but that was a fact she just knew. 

The boy, Frodnar whined in disappointment at something, but Jaylay was too distracted by the big fuzzy dog, Stump as he came up to sniff the cat. The Khajiit's eyes widened in curiosity, before lowering her hand as if to touch the dog. 

Frodnar whistled before she could make contact, and Stump barked, chasing after his boy. 

Jaylay's ears lowered. Maybe one day, she'd find herself a dog and a child to adopt. 

"I hear they have plenty of dogs in Markarth. But before that, could you do me a favor?" Geurdur asked Jaylay, drawing her attention. 

"Hm?" she asked, "I'd do what I can." 

She seemed to be as shocked by her speech as well, and her tail twitched. 

"Well, if there are Dragons about, Riverwood can't defend itself. Whiterun is where the Jarl resides, just an hour or two that way. Could you perhaps go there and request that it sends some more guards in case of an attack?" 

"That doesn't sound too hard. I can do that. Make sure you are safe." She agreed, even though she knew it would only be the beginning. 

She clasped her hands together. 

"Oh, thank you! You have no idea what that means to us! Thank you so much! If there is anything we can do for you, just let us know." 

"Actually. If it wouldn't be too much trouble... Perhaps a crappy piece of armor. I don't want to be unnecessarily attacked for these colors." She said, picking at her clothes. "And maybe a scrap of bread. Even a stale piece would be fine." 

Instantly, they ushered her inside and gave her a whole loaf and Alvar, her husband, searched around in his chest for an old set of leather armor. 

"It may be a little large on you, but it shall work until you are able to buy your own." 

"Thank you..." Jaylay said, tightening the leather straps around her chest, the gratitude clear in her voice. 

It was a full set, boots, bracers and a helmet included. Jaylay didn't like the feeling of her ears being forcefully flattened against her skull, but she would wear it until she got on the road. She'd find a place to sell it later. 

They also provided a bedroll and a sack that could hold quite a bit, which she slung across her back thankfully. 

"I really can't thank you enough. I don't have any money or-" 

"Hush. Rolaf said you saved his life. Let this be part of our gratitude." 

The cat blinked and nodded, thanking them again before heading toward Whiterun, her mental compass leading her toward the city. She had a mental map of all of Skyrim and... someplace else. Someplace to the northeast... 

Flashes of places she'd visited, no. She hadn't visited anyplace yet. No, no. She had. She remembered. But she had been different then. Male? Nord? Orc? No, no. She was Khajiit. No...?

Jaylay raised a hand to her head. Her head hurt thinking about these visions. 

These visions had some truth. She saw Lokir die, and that was true. 

She shook her head. She just had to get to Whiterun. Things were different. Maybe she wouldn't have to deal with the dragons and all the missions this time. All the useless time spent doing errands for people. Maybe she'd be normal for once. 

Surprisingly, other than a few travelers she didn't care to stop and talk too, the road was empty and clear of enemies. 

An old burned down home made Jaylay blink. Under the boards...

She moved into the wooden structure, and sure enough, there was a chest under the rotted boards. Within was only 30 gold. But that was fine by her. It would get her a room at the inn for a night. 

The walls of Whiterun seemed almost like a comfort to behold. Breezehome would be a nice place to be. Perhaps she'd save up for it. Maybe she'd visit Falkreath and see if the Lakeview manner would be available to her. 

"Halt! W-" the guard at the gate cried, but Jaylay quickly cut him off.

"Riverwood is in need of the Jarl's aid! Please!" She cried, sounding desperate. 

"Gods. Riverwood is in trouble too? The Jarl is in Dragonsreach at the top of the hill. Go right inside." 

Jaylay nodded thankfully and slipped into the giant wooden gates. 

The city was full of people, and the Khajiit instantly went to her right to sell the helmet she didn't need. 

Collecting forty gold for it, she then went over to the inn, asking for a room. The innkeeper at the Bannered Mare narrowed her eyes at the Khajiit, but gladly took her money. "Keep your nose clean, Khajiit. If I find any trouble you'll be banned. Other than that, the room is yours." 

The cat's ears lowered. "Trust me. If I wanted to cause trouble, you'd not have heard me speak to you." She pointed out. 

The innkeeper made a huff, but Jaylay just ignored her. She had a Jarl to speak to. 

Dragonsreach was much more massive that she remembered and much more beautiful. Even Jorrvaskr was a much more impressive building than she recalled. 

Her body felt weak, and even weaker after going up the stairs with the thick armor on. 

Shit. She needed to get a good workout before doing anything. 

Catching her breath at the door, she sighed slowly before pulling the huge doors open and slipping inside. 

The gravity against the doors made them thump shut again behind her as she heard Jarl Balgruuf arguing with his housecarl and his steward. 

She let her nose twitch as the food along the two long tables made her mouth water. She embarrassingly wiped her mouth. When was the last time she ate? She... couldn't remember. She couldn't remember anything before the wagon ride... She doesn't remember her family. She doesn't know how she knows what she does. She knows how to read and write, but where did she learn? Did she have a family? She doesn't remember Elsywere, but she knows it's a beautiful desert land. 

Her ears lowered sadly as she was called out to. 

"What is the meaning of this interruption!?" The dark elf woman cried. 

"Oh, well, I just thought you'd like to know about the dragon I saw in Helgen, and it was heading toward Riverwood, which sent me to ask for the Jarl's aid." 

"Riverwood's in danger? We shall send a troop at once." Balgruuf cried. 

Irileth focused on a different topic, however. 

"You were at Helgen when the dragon attacked?" 

The furred citizen nodded and began to explain what occurred, each person listening carefully. 

"Say, I have a favor to ask of you, as you have more experience with dragons than any of us-" Balgruuf began. 

"I wouldn't say experience..." Jaylay added, but Balgruuf continued. 

"-my court wizard, Farengar, needs someone to go on an errand involving some sort of dragon-y thing. If you retrieve it for him, I'll be glad to reward you for it." 

"Give me a week. I'd be glad to retrieve it for you, but I am not in my best state at the moment. Give me a few days to train myself for anything I might find there. You've waited this long for it. What's a few more days?" Jaylay pointed out. 

"Hm. Understandable. Farengar can be patient. Thank you. We shall see you when you return then, adventurer." 

The cat gave a halfhearted bow and twirled around to head back to the inn to rest after such a long day. Tomorrow, she'd see if she could egg some companions into sparring her.