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Ruminations of a Thief and Assassin

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Along an old cobbled road a rickety carriage ambled slowly and painfully. The passengers— well, prisoners, really— were bound in the back of the cart, sitting silently together. They jostled about uncomfortably, each filled with a nervous energy, a sense of dread hovering over them all. The three men sat minding their own business, each staring pointedly away from one another. One young man found himself looking at the fourth prisoner across from him. She had been unconscious since she had first been hauled into their carriage.

After a while of rumbling almost aimlessly along the road, the young woman began to stir. Her eyes opened groggily and she blinked furiously against the dreary, though bright, sunlight. She sat up a bit straighter and looked around slightly, more towards the front of the carriage, towards wherever their destination may be.

“Hey, you. You're finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right? Walked right into that Imperial ambush, same as us, and that thief over there,” the young blonde man said, his accent thick, though manageable, even to the young woman’s mostly asleep brain. She looked at him silently, wondering what the hell was actually going on.

“Damn you Stormcloaks. Skyrim was fine until you came along. Empire was nice and lazy. If they hadn't been looking for you, I could've stolen that horse and been half way to Hammerfell. You there. You and me -- we shouldn't be here. It's these Stormcloaks the Empire wants.” another, desperate man insisted. His voice was shaking and he himself seemed to be shaken.

“We're all brothers and sisters in binds now, thief,” the blonde man sighed, sounding resigned to whatever fate it was that they had been assigned.

The young woman remained silent as the guard driving the cart ordered them to remain silent and she glanced at the blonde man curiously, almost cautiously. That was right. The Stormcloaks… The Imperials… They’d all just shown up. She had been resting for the night, guarding her small campsite away from the main road when the fighting started. She hadn’t known was was going on, but then she had been surrounded. Since her weapon was drawn, mostly as a precautionary measure (damn bandits could sneak up at any time), she had been threatened and taken into custody. When she made a break for it, she had been grabbed and knocked out. She tuned back into the conversation as their final destination was being discussed.

“A Nord’s last thoughts should be of home,” the blonde man across from her said to the horse thief gently. He seemed to be fully resigned to die. After all, it was what he pledged to do when he enlisted with the Stormcloaks. He would defend his homeland with his life if the need be, though it seemed as if it wasn’t optional any longer.

The horse thief began to stammer out the names of the Divines, hoping to achieve mercy by some holy intervention. The girl would have given a bitter laugh had she not been secretly praying herself.

She locked eyes with the young man across from her and he game her a grim look before saying, “Look at him, General Tullius the Military Governor. And it looks like the Thalmor are with him. Damn elves. I bet they had something to do with this… This is Helgen. I used to be sweet on a girl from here. Wonder if Vilod is still making that mead with juniper berries mixed in. Funny... when I was a boy, Imperial walls and towers used to make me feel so safe…”

She couldn’t disagree with the man. She remembered the days when the Imperials represented stability, happiness even. It wasn’t until the Stormcloaks rose up that she realised how dissatisfied the people of Skyrim were. Of course, many of the problems with the Imperials began simply because the Stormcloaks rose up in the first place. Everywhere she went she was confronted with questions of her allegiance to the Empire or to her fellow Nords, pressured to pick one side over the other in a choice where both halves were the wrong answer. Neither side was perfectly right, but neither was entirely wrong. Though to be fair, from where the stars currently sat, she was honestly more inclined to favor the Stormcloaks; at least they hadn’t attempted to execute her yet.

“Why are they stopping?” The horse thief asked, sounding as if he was ready to faint out of worry.

“Why do you think?” the blonde man asked, looking at the horse thief with a hard, unyielding stare. “End of the line.” The man turned and looked at Ulfric Stormcloak— the god damn leader of the Stormcloaks, and arguably the reason they were all set to be executed— as if he were awaiting orders from his fearless leader. The gagged man simply stood and turned to exit the wagon, a steely look in his eyes as he did so. The blonde man across from her gritted his teeth slightly and let out a small sigh of forbearance and looked back at the young woman saying, “Let’s go. Shouldn’t keep them waiting for us.”

“No!” the horse thief shrilly exclaimed, “Wait! We’re not rebels!”

“Face your death with some courage, thief,” the young man chastised, sounding exasperated from the man’s constant grovelling, though it did seem somewhat acceptable considering the circumstances. However, the man’s stern words did nothing to sway the thief as he begged for someone to explain how he was never with the Stormcloaks, that it was all just a big mistake.

“Step toward the block when we call your name. One at a time!” the Imperial Captain barked sternly, her dark eyes glaring at the group of prisoners in what could have easily been disgust.

“Empire loves their damn lists…” the blond man grumbled beside the young woman.

She did her best to remain calm. She hoped that if she remained silent and made herself as unnoticeable as possible, she wouldn’t be called; that she might be able to get away. Ulfric Stormcloak made his way towards the block and his soldier expressed his admiration of the man in life. He went quietly when his name— Ralof of Riverwood— was called, stepping towards the block without a glance at anyone else. The horse thief— Lokir of Rorikstead— made a run for it, shouting about his innocence. He was shot down almost immediately. He dropped to the ground with a groan, his life rapidly leaving his body.

“Anybody else feel like running?” the Imperial Captain asked, sounding as if she had just asked that question a hundred times already that day, though the venom in her tone was near on palpable.

“Wait,” the man reading the lists said, looking directly at the young woman in rags. “You there. Step forward.” She slowly made her way forward, trying not to stumble, though she was certain her knees were shaking. She looked up at him expectantly, though her expression was well guarded. “Who are you?”

She stood silent for a moment, looking down at her feet. It had been a long while since anyone had asked her that question. She wasn’t even sure she knew a proper answer to give him. She tilted her head slightly, a lock of her auburn hair falling into her face. She flicked it away with a short huff of her breath as she raised her green eyes to look at the man. She squared her shoulders slightly, her small frame not intimidating in the slightest as she responded, “Raisa Pilkvist.” Her voice was hoarse and her throat felt as if it were tearing when she spoke.

“You picked a bad time to come home to Skyrim, kinsman,” the man said with a sigh. “Captain, what should we do? She’s not on the list…”

“Forget the list,” the Captain said without hesitation. “She goes to the block.”

“By your orders, Captain…” the man— Hadvar— said, sounding almost reluctant as he did so. “I’m sorry,” he said to Raisa, sounding surprisingly sincere, “At least you’ll die here, in your homeland. Follow the Captain, prisoner.”

Raisa turned and made her way to stand with the other prisoners. As she approached, the Imperial General, Tullius, was speaking to Ulfric Stormcloak, the disdain apparent in his voice, “You started this war, plunged Skyrim into chaos and now the Empire is going to put you down, and restore the peace.”

A loud noise sounded in the distance, causing the entirety of the village to look around in confusion. After a moment, General Tullius instructed the executioners to get on with their work, stating that the sound was nothing of their concern, which is certainly shouldn’t have been. A priestess of Arkay stepped forward to give the prisoners their last rights. Raisa glowered slightly at the priestess. What good would their last rights do them in Sovngarde if mercy wasn’t shown to the innocent in life? Another prisoner— a nameless Stormcloak soldier— expressed as much, invoking the name of Talos in his impatience.

As the man was beheaded— a solid, clean swing— Ralof sighed, “As fearless in death as he was in life.” His voice sounded somewhat choked, as if he was really beginning to understand the certainty of their situation.

“Next, the Nord in the rags!” the Captain shouted. As Raisa was called, her eyes fluttered closed briefly as she allowed herself a moment to mourn her misfortune. She briefly considered making a run for it but another loud sound—much closer this time— sounded over the mountains, and her gaze fell on the fallen horse thief. No, she would not die a coward.

“There it is again. Did you hear that?” Hadvar asked the Captain, sounding somewhat nervous.

“I said, next prisoner!” the Captain spat out, glaring at Hadvar.

The man, in turn, turned to face Raisa said, “To the block, prisoner. Nice and easy.”

Raisa stepped forward, her heart racing in her chest. Her senses felt as if they had been kicked into overdrive. As she knelt down, her head resting on the freshly used chopping block, she could practically smell the iron in the man’s blood, his lifeless eyes staring up at her from the head basket. She felt bile rising up in the back of her throat, but she swallowed it back, feeling a light breeze on her face. She heard the mountain flowers and thistle rustle in the breeze as it blew a bit harder. She opened her eyes, looking out towards the sky over the mountains, trying to make her horrible last memory at least a small bit more bearable. It was almost a comfort to know that no one would be around to mourn her loss. It made her feel less guilty about losing her life so soon.

At that moment, as the executioner prepared himself to swing, a large creature swooped into view coming over the ridge. Yelling erupted from those in charge, unanswered questions and unquestionable orders. The creature— a dragon, it appeared— landed roughly on the watchtower behind the executioner. The force of its landing caused everyone around it to stagger in the shock waves. Raisa looked up at it, fear apparent in her eyes, though she was paralyzed on the spot. The dragon let out a roar rather like a shout and she felt herself careening away from the block as if she were physically shoved. She tumbled about a bit before collapsing on the ground, feeling rather faint.

She felt the heat of the flames build as she lay on the ground, wishing that axe had swung just a few moments earlier, but at the same time, never feeling more grateful in her life, even if her savior was a dragon. Even if there was still every chance she would die in the ill but oh so perfectly timed attack.

“Hey, kinsman! Get up!” she heard loudly in her ear as a pair of rough hands pulled her to her feet and began dragging her along through the smoke and already smouldering rubble of the town. “Come on, the gods won’t give us another chance!” she now recognized the voice as Ralof’s as he shoved her towards a mostly in-tact watchtower at the center of the town. She coughed, attempting to expel the foul smoke from her lungs as she collapsed against the stairs inside of the watchtower gratefully.

“Jarl Ulfric! What is that thing? could the legends be true?” Ralof questioned the Jarl without pause, as if the man had all the answers locked away in his unfathomable mind.

The older man seemed almost solemn as he stood near the door, glancing at the carnage outside. Raisa looked over at the two men, curious despite her current terrified state of mind. They were both Nords through and through, and warriors to boot. They both were strong, though rather lean, Ralof more than Ulfric in that sense. They both had their shares of scars and their expressions were haggard. “Legends don’t burn down villages,” Ulfric mused in a low voice, his expression dire. “We need to move, now!”

“Up through the tower,” Ralof suggested. He turned and grabbed Raisa by the arm and hoisted her up, urging her up the stairs, “Let’s go! This way, friend! Move!”

Raisa hobbled her way up the stairs as best she could with her hands bound. The stairs were steep and tall and Ralof was soon ahead of her. As they neared the top landing below the upper floor, the wall in front of them exploded in a rain of fire and smouldering rock, flames bursting through the newly made hole.

“Get back!” Ralof hollered, retreating down several stairs, dragging Raisa down with him. Again she was grateful for his thoughtful actions, but she was still so dazed by what was going on. She was still stuck on the fact that she hadn’t yet died. It was almost like the rest of what was going on was simply an afterlife hallucination. This was her road to the Great Hall of the Fallen Heroes in Sovngarde. A rough road, but one she would reach the end of eventually. She hadn’t realised she had been such a despicable person to deserve a final journey as harsh and horrible as this. Not that she had been much of a hero at all to begin with.

Ralof made his way back up to the top of the tower, beckoning for Raisa to follow him quickly. He observed the village from above, a worried expression on his face. He pointed out the hole in the wall and said, “See the inn on the other side? Jump through the roof and keep going!” Raisa looked at him as if he were absolutely insane. Ralof gave her an exasperated look and insisted, “Go! We’ll follow you when we can!”

Ralof retreated down the stairs once more to go and help his brothers in arms who were injured. Raisa looked down the stairs after him, hesitating to strike out on her own. She wondered how they would all follow, while still taking their injured along. They were good men. They would never leave a brother behind.

She looked out and took a deep breathe before taking a few steps back. It wasn’t too far. She could do it… She knew she could. It was all in the knees. She ran the few steps to the opening, ducking her head as she did and leapt into the open air. She felt the air rushing past and she hit the top floor of the inn with a grunt, rolling onto her shoulder. She winced as she forced herself to her feet, flames consuming the collapsed portions of the roof behind her. She coughed once more, her heart pounding as she stumbled through the wreckage. She dropped down to the bottom floor through a hole in the ceiling and hovered in the door of the in, peeking out hesitantly. The dragon wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

“Haming, you need to get over here now! Thataboy. You're doing great! Torolf! Gods...everyone get back!” the list-reader exclaimed as the dragon touched down on the other side of the building. Raisa ducked back behind the doorframe of the inn with a small shriek. The dragon took off, and Raisa stepped out into the open, figuring she might find a way out into the wilderness if she followed someone who knew the town.

Hadvar glanced back and smirked slightly as he caught sight of Raisa lurking in the background. “Still alive, prisoner? Keep close to me if you want to stay that way. Gunnar, take care of the boy. I have to find General Tullius and join the defense.”

Raisa quickly followed the man without protest, wondering if it was possible for a heart to beat too fast. He led her down some stairs between two buildings and ordered her to stick close tot he wall as the dragon landed on the building behind them. She crouched low in a sneak position, blood rushing through her ears. She winced and let out a gasp that was drowned out by a near deafening roar from the beast above. Then the dragon was off into the air once more, hell bent on wreaking more havoc. Hadvar barked over at her for her to follow him once more. “It’s you and me prisoner,” he shouted above the roars of the dragon as they ran through the burning streets of Helgen, “Stay close!”

As they neared the keep, Ralof burst away from another burning road, looking flustered, though his face was hard and determined. “Ralof! You damned traitor, out of my way!” Hadvar roared as he advanced towards the keep.

Hardly breaking stride, Ralof hammered back, “We’re escaping, Hadvar! You’re not stopping us this time!”

“Fine,” Hadvar spat back as the two man came to a stand still twenty feet away from one another. “I hope that dragon takes you all to Sovngarde.”

“You, come on!” Ralof shouted, beckoning to Raisa as he continued his trajectory towards escape. “Into the keep!”

“With me, prisoner! Let’s go!” Hadvar growled, barrelling towards the keep. “Come on! We need to get inside!”

Raisa stood for a moment, each man still on their way to their respective entrances, unsure of what to do. After a moment’s hesitation, she turned and dashed towards where Ralof was waiting, holding open the keep door. Once inside, Ralof slammed the door shut and made his way into the central room cautiously, a solemn look on his face when he approached the fallen soldier on the ground.

“We'll meet again in Sovngarde, brother…” Ralof sighed as he bent down and checked the body. He straightened after a moment of silence and turned to face Raisa, who was looking around the keep cautiously, lingering on the outskirts of the room. She flinched slightly as the keep rumbled. Sounded like that dragon wasn’t anywhere near done with his rampage. Ralof began again, “Looks like we're the only ones who made it. That thing was a dragon. No doubt. Just like the children’s stories and the legends. The harbingers of the End Times.”

He cleared his throat slightly and nodded almost to himself, “We better get moving. Come here, let me see if I can get those bindings off. There you go. May as well take Gunjar's gear…he won't be needing it anymore. Alright, get that armor on and give that axe a few swings. I'm going to see if I can find some way out of here. This one's locked. Let's see about that gate. Damn. No way to open this from our side…”

He kept his back turned while she pulled on the Stormcloak cuirass over her prisoner’s rags and hefted the axe in her hand a few times, judging the weight with a slight frown on her face. She sighed slightly; it would have to do for the time being. Not like she was exactly in a position to complain.

“Come on, soldier! Keep moving!” a voice echoed through the stone halls. Raisa looked sharply over at Ralof who looked back at her with a slightly panicked expression. He dashed over to her side of the room and backed himself up against the wall, keeping quiet as he told her to take cover as well. The Imperial Captain who had meant to oversee their executions stalked through the archway once her soldier unlocked the gate. Ralof glanced over at Raisa and gave her a small, reassuring smile before he leapt out and swung his axe at the foot soldier with a yell of “Imperial dogs!”

The Imperial guard and the soldier were ready almost at once, both moving to flank Ralof. Raisa took a quick breath and leapt out to intercept a swing by the Captain with her axe, making sure to shove the woman while she was recovering from the unexpected deflection. Raisa was quick, swinging her axe again, but ever the soldier, the Imperial Captain leapt back with a snarl. She went at Raisa now, swinging her sword almost wildly. Raisa side stepped and placed a well timed kick to the side of the Captain’s knees, kicking it sideways and inward. There was a loud crack and the Captain staggered down onto one knee as Raisa’s axe swung once more, this time finding it’s mark.

As Raisa tugged the axe from the woman’s neck, Ralof spoke again, bending down to search the bodies, “Maybe one of these Imperials had the key. Let's see here... Here we are, found a key. Let's see if it opens that door… That's it!” He straightened and held up a key dangling from a thin leather strip with a slight smirk, swinging it back and forth slightly. But Raisa wasn’t paying him much attention. She was staring at the now lifeless bodies of the Imperial Captain and nameless soldier in an almost trancelike state. She swallowed hard and tightened her grip on her axe as Ralof started to speak once more, his voice a tad more gentle this time, “Come on, let's get out of here before the dragon brings the whole tower down on our heads.” After a moment she dropped the axe and grabbed the Captain’s sword off the ground where it had fallen and tested it in her hand a moment.

She nodded, her brow furrowed as she jogged off after him through the gate opposite their little battle. They tore down the stairs when the foundation of the building rumbled dangerously. The two stopped and stumbled backwards as a few imperial soldiers began to run at them. Luckily (sort of) the ceiling suddenly caved in and the two backed up, tripping over their own feet as large boulders rained down from above.

“Damn, that dragon doesn’t give up easy,” Ralof mused slightly, and Raisa almost let out a laugh at that. He certainly wasn’t wrong about that.

“Grab everything important and let’s move! The dragon is burning everything to the ground,” a harsh voice snapped from the next room over.

“Just need to gather some more potions!” another, slightly more frantic voice responded quickly. There was a sound of scuffing and the sheathing of weapons as Ralof nodded towards the room silently. Raisa grimaced, knowing what would come next. She readied her new sword and dashed into the room after Ralof, attempting to prepare herself mentally this time for the sight to come. Still two on one, Raisa stabbed at the opponent with her sword, accidentally overextending her reach. She whipped herself back as the opposing imperial almost stabbed her in the neck. Luckily Ralof was there with a well timed swing of his axe, having just dispatched his opponent moments earlier.

“A storeroom,” he said after he caught his breath, not even waiting for her words of thanks. “See if you can find anything useful. We might need it later.”

Raisa snooped around for a bit, as did Ralof. She managed to scrounge up a few of what seemed to be stamina potions. She handed one to Ralof and uncapped hers, already feeling far too drained. She tipped the contents of the small bottle into her mouth and almost gagged when the vile green liquid touched her tongue. Somehow both sour and bitter at once, she felt like the strange liquid seared the back of her throat raw. But it did help her stand a bit taller, her limbs loose and her fatigue leaving her almost instantly. Ralof followed suit, discarding his bottle with a grunt and a nod before saying a simple, “Let’s get moving,” before heading down year another set of stairs where a few Stormcloaks were quickly dispatching a set of Imperial torturers.

“Is Jarl Ulfric with you?” Ralof asked, a serious frown on his face as he sheathed his weapon once more.

One of the remaining soldiers shook her head bitterly, “No; I haven’t seen him since the dragon showed up.”

Ralof nodded grimly and looked around the room, a look of disgust apparent on his face. Raisa wandered around the room quickly, grabbing a leather rucksack and checking the contents. A few lock picks… a bit of gold… more potions… and a book about some old Norse legend… and a dagger. At least she had a few septims to her name now. Not that it would do much good buried underground.

“Wait a second,” Ralof said as the Stormcloaks made to leave the room. “Looks like there’s something in this cage.” He tried the door to no avail, though Raisa would never have expected it to be unlocked in the first place. “It’s locked,” he said with a disgruntled sigh. “See if you can get it open with some picks. We might need that gold once we get out. Grab anything useful and let's go.”

While the other Stormcloaks chose to search the room, Raisa padded over to the hides black iron cage and pulled out one of her lockpicks. She hadn’t done this sort of thing in a while, but she was certain she still knew her way around a silly little lock. The triggers clicked into place and she pulled the door outwards toward herself, standing up straight as she did. She stepped into the cage and snatched up the gold and the small vial of blue potion next to it. After a moment, she picked up the strange book next to it and shoved it all into her bag, tightening the flap closed before stepping out of the cage, being sure to avoid the corpse of the mage that resided there. She turned and her eyes met with Ralof’s once more. She nodded and he turned to lead the way down.

After dispatching yet another room full of soldiers, Ralof nodded towards a rough tunnel through the mountain side over his shoulder, “Let’s go on ahead. See if the way’s clear.” Raisa nodded and began to follow him. “Let’s see where this goes.”

They walked along, crossing a small bridge open to the sky. They skirted around along the walls and ducked through the archway on the other side, and not a moment too soon, as a large boulder smashed down behind them.

“No going back that way now…” Ralof said quietly once the ground had stopped shaking. Raisa knew he must be thinking about his fellow Stormcloaks back in the underkeep. “We’d better push on,” he continued after clearing his throat, “The rest of them will have to find another way out.”

They pair walked along a stream in silence, stepping carefully along the algae covered rocks of the shore. Raisa paused near a lantern, grabbing a small sack of gold that was stuffed into an obvious crack in the rockface.

“Hmm,” she heard Ralof grumble from up ahead, “That doesn’t go anywhere. I guess we’d better try this way…”

Of course, ‘this way’ led straight into the middle of a den of Frostbite spiders. Raisa lingered behind slightly, feeling bad for Ralof at first, but less so when the beasts were dead in a timely fashion. He glanced at her with a slight smirk, “I hate those damn things. Too many eyes, you know?”

Raisa gave him a wry smile as they continued on. Suddenly, Ralof grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down behind a large boulder. “Hold up…” he whispered, “There’s a bear just ahead. See her?”
Raisa glanced over the boulder cautiously, a small frown on her face. She wasn’t too fond of bears. They always seemed to pop up when they were needed the least. Not that they were ever really needed. No, she’d rather they just not pop up at all.

“I’d rather no tangle with her right now.” Ralof whispered in her ear carefully, his blue eyes stuck on the sleeping figure. “Let's try to sneak by,” he suggested lightly. “Just take it nice and slow, and watch where you step.” Raisa didn’t respond, still watching the bear and musing over how horribly inconvenient its timing was. Then again, after a dragon, a bear wasn’t too big an issue. Unless it killed her. What would that say about her? Escaped a dragon only to be mauled by a bear. Not the best way to go… After a moment Ralof continued, “Or… if you're feeling lucky… you could take this bow… Might take her by surprise. Go ahead. I'll follow your lead and watch your back.”

He pressed the bow into her hand and stuck a quiver of arrows into her rucksack quietly as possible. Raisa glanced at him slightly while he looked back at her expectantly. Why he trusted her so much, she figured she would never know. To be fair, it was probably because at this point, he didn’t have much of another choice. They were all each other had until they could reach civilization. If they could reach civilization. If the dragon didn’t get there first…

She crept forward slowly, stretching an arrow along the bow and looking down its shaft towards the bear, taking her time to aim it properly. She could always sneak by, yes. But she would rather be certain that nothing unsavoury would pop up behind them when they were farther along the cave system. She let out a slow breath and took another in, holding it briefly as she steadied her arms. She let out the breath quietly as she let the arrow fly. It struck the bear, jerking it out of its slumber. It lurched unstably to its feet. Ralof pulled out his sword, ready to defend them and probably cursing her for attempting to attack the beast instead of avoiding the fight altogether. The bear sniffed and limped towards where they were hiding. Raisa reached in the quiver for another arrow, drawing back the string and letting the projectile fly quicker this time. By some miracle, or perhaps even some hidden talent, the arrow struck the bear in its right eye, buried deep in the socket. The bear stumbled a bit before falling to the ground with a crunch, twitching as its life force slowly drained away.

Raisa’s chest felt tight, but it was nowhere near as bad as when she first saw how she had butchered the Imperial Captain. She sighed and follow Ralof forward past the dying bear, still creeping along the caves low and slow. Up ahead, a natural, bright light began to grow and her hopes began to soar. They had done it…

“That looks like the way out!” Ralof exclaimed, clapping a hand joyously on Raisa’s back. “I knew we’d make it!”

Raisa nodded slightly, taking a deep breath of the fresh air, a sense of relief and a creeping feeling of disbelief seeping into her chest to replace the nauseated feeling she had from before. A roar tore through the air as the dragon swooped over the mountain, heading off to ravage some other village.

“Wait!” Ralof exclaimed, dragging Raisa behind a large rock and creeping over it as the dragon flew away. “There he goes. Looks like he's gone for good this time. No way to know if anyone else made it out alive… But this place is going to be swarming with Imperials soon enough. We'd better clear out of here.” he continued, “It’s— it’s probably best if we split up… Good luck. I wouldn't have made it without your help today.”

Raisa looked at him skeptically and let out a noise of something close to disdain for the very thought. She wasn’t about to strike off on her own just yet. She didn’t even know what the hell this part of Skyrim was. She’d never made it this far south before.

After a moment, Ralof turned back to look at her with a small smile, “My sister Gerdur runs the mill in Riverwood, just up the road. I'm sure she'd help you out.”

Raisa jogged a bit until she caught up with him, walking beside him, feeling a bit tired once more. After a while of walking in silence Ralof glanced over at her and said lightly, “You know, you should go to Windhelm and join the fight for free Skyrim. You've seen the true face of the Empire here today. And, if anyone will know what the coming of the dragon means, it's Ulfric.”