Shoes caked in mud and snow shuffled along the pathway. Almost frozen to the bone, you were unarmed and struggling to make it to Whiterun’s city gates. The snow heavily pounded against your frail clothing. You shut your eyes and huddled your arms to your chest. The long scarf you wrapped around your chin unraveled in the harsh wind and flew into the air. You gazed back and the brightly red colored cloth instantly vanished into the sky.
“I hate this land,” you thought and continued onward.
Brief seconds later the pathway was almost completely hidden by the snow. You lifted your head up to see how far the city gates were. White clogging your vision, you trudged forward. You prayed silently that you would make it. You were so cold that you were close to feeling nothing. After suffering your way over, you finally made it to the city gates only to find them shut and without any guards.
You closed your eyes and whispered a sigh. You got as close to the wooden doors as you could so that the small archway above might offer some cover. You sat on the ground, which was damp, and took in a deep breath.
“Fire.” You summoned flames into your palms, but because of how frozen and uncomfortable you were, the fires were like little dots in the middle of your palms.
You brought the little flames toward your face, and you closed your eyes while the warmth melted away the snow. As soon as you were able to receive a teeny bit of comfort, the wind picked up again. Not only did it blow out your fire spell, but it slammed you against the door. The back of your head hit against the steel frame in the door and you were left trembling on the ground.
The pain consumed you. Your breath hitched and your arms swam around your head to help the throbbing, but you knew there was no way it would help a concussion.
“Halt!” you heard someone scream. When you peered over the mounds of snow, you felt dizzy. But you did your best to remain focused as a person clad in black approached you. He gently prodded you, and you blinked in response.
You were lifted up over his cold steel and fur armor. You would had done without the bouncing, but you remained as still as possible so he could better help you.
“What if he’ll hold me captive?” you asked yourself. When your cheek was resting against his shoulder, you peered behind him to see two other figures walking behind him. With all the snow it was hard to make out the people’s faces, but the wind picked up and carried over a peculiar scent.
“They smell like dogs,” you thought and smiled. “Companion?” you asked in a hush tone, but your savior turned his head in acknowledgement. Dogs heard anything-even mumbles through the howling wind.
“You’ll be safe,” he said and opened the city gates.
You woke up in a temple that was filled with light. The combination of the cool stone you laid on and the warmth from the sun gleaming through the windows was heavenly. As you carefully propped yourself up, you noticed the dark robes you were wearing. They were fresh, clean, soft, and comfortable. Your feet were covered in new looking boots, and you had a hooded scarf over your head. Your hair felt damp but the rest of your body was dry. You looked over at the healing pool in the center of the temple.
“This must be the Temple of Kynareth,” you pondered and let your feet drop on the marble floor. When you approached the altar where a priestess was consulting scrolls, the light shone heavier through the windows and almost blinded you. You grunted and held onto your forehead with a palm. Your noise got the attention of a priestess, and she rushed over to you.
Laying a hand on your forehead, she casted a healing spell and helped you straighten up. You blinked rapidly a few times and you were able to see clearly. “You must take it easy,” she said, “You almost died from the storm last night. What were you doing wandering around out there by yourself?”
“Hmph…Eorlund…G-Gray-Mane,” you grunted.
The priestess looked bewildered for a moment. “The smith at the Skyforge?” she asked slowly. You remained silent but nodded. The priestess folded her arms and stared at you for a little while. You continued to look back at her without your expression changing.
“Come with me,” she said and walked to the doors. You followed but remained careful of where you stepped. As soon as you got outside, the winter sun greeted you in the distance over the quaint Wind District of Whiterun.
“Such a beautiful city,” you thought and smiled with admiration of the well-constructed houses and well-tended gardens. The priestess brought you out to a circular street with a large tree in the middle. People were already out and about in the town. You looked to your right to see stairs that snaked its way down to the market area.
The priestess urged you to walk with her across the street and up to a large oval looking building. You weren’t exactly sure what was inside but when you peered off to the left, a partially spiral staircase led to a platform. You couldn’t see what was on the platform from how high up it was, but there was a good amount of smoke billowing out into the street.
“Jorrvaskr?” you asked and watched the priestess nod.
“I prefer if you waited here. I’ll be right back,” she said and went into the building.
You wanted to follow her in, but you didn’t want to appear rude. Jorrvaskr was as big and odd looking as you were informed in a letter sent to you almost two weeks ago. A sudden wave of panic took over as you fished around your pockets for the letter, but you realized that you weren’t in the clothes you were traveling in. “How fantastic,” you thought and paced around the street.
You were interrupted by a drunk Redguard in beggar’s rags approaching you. The bridge of his nose was bright red. It was depressing to think how such a person would already be so drunk this early in the day.
“…hmm…long way from Hammerfell?” he asked. “It’s not that uncommon to find other Redguards in Skyrim, but we should split something together at the Drunken Huntsman anyway.”
You shook your head and mumbled but the man was already taking you by the wrist and leading you off somewhere. You dug your heels into the ground and yanked your wrist out of his grasp. He turned and scoffed at you. Immediately he went off on a rant about how it was extremely rude to refuse Redguard company, and you turned away from him.
“Begone with you,” the priestess said when she returned. The man continued to ramble as he was shooed away by a Whiterun guard who was standing by.
You saw a large man in furs and heavy armor approach you. His werewolf scent was strong but not in a way that it smelled bad. He smelled dominant and like an alpha. “Kodlak,” you stated and greeted him by extending your arm.
Instead of greeting you warmly, he stood there with his arms crossed and looking indifferent. It was hard to tell what his expression was. His only good eye was so light that you almost zoned out staring into it.
“Now I’m not much for quitters,” he began, “but a Companion never turns down the chance to redeem a favor. Consider your father and I even.”
You sighed and looked at your shoes. When you caught glimpse of your robes, you turned to the priestess and remembered that the letter you needed wasn’t with you. The priestess caught on and handed the letter over to you. You snarled at her and snatched the letter from her hands.
“Things of mine?” you asked, slightly stuttering in between your short words.
“All in Jorrvaskr,” Kodlak said behind you. “But you would have words first with Eorlund before we decide to let you stay with us.”
You were almost getting too angry to just stand still. You approached Kodlak with the letter in your hand and fiercely pointed at it. You needed a place to stay. It was in the agreement.
“Speak with Eorlund first. He’s expecting you.”
Kodlak ignored your approach and turned coldly away from you and went back into Jorrvaskr. The priestess asked if there was anything else you needed from her, and you declined as best as you were able to speak. You climbed up the stairs to Skyforge to see Eorlund working away at weapon repair.
When he saw you, a faint smile spread across his withered face. You almost frowned at how much older he looked since the last time you saw him, which was when you were a child. He was one of the few people you remembered clearly since you were that young.
Eorlund embraced you carefully. “I heard about your near death experience and I’m glad Farkas found you,” he said. “Some of our best Companions were out on an important job and by the gods you were certainly lucky they came back when they did.”
“Mhmm,” you hummed and smiled back at Eorlund. “Father wrote…his letter hmmm.”
“Aye, he did,” Eorlund responded a tad forlorn. “I can’t believe he’s leaving you here by yourself. I don’t care if the Emperor himself asked him back to High Rock. A good father should never leave his daughter behind. You’d think he’d know that after all these years.”
You only shrugged. “Ap..prentice,” you spoke.
Eorlund nodded knowingly. “You are welcome to stay at my home. We can start work tomorrow.”
Surprised, you looked back at Jorrvaskr. “Thorald…” you said.
You watched Eorlund winced after mentioning his missing son’s name. You didn’t know Thorald nor much of the Gray-Manes at all, but your father mentioned that Thorald had gone missing some time ago. No one had been allowed into their house much ever since, and you were certainly flattered that Eorlund was kind enough to let you stay. Normally the man was very cold to outsiders, but because of the circumstances and your father’s, who left the Companions recently to find you, connections with Whiterun, Eorlund was happy to let you work with him let alone stay in his residence.
After reconnecting, you made your way into Jorrvaskr. As soon as you opened the doors, you watched tables full of Companions feast. They were drinking and celebrating, and while you watched them hound down food, you felt suddenly hungry.
You quietly stood near the door and looked around for someone to help you. Kodlak saw you walk down the steps to approach the table, and he didn’t at all look happy.
“Farkas,” he barked. A man with chin length, shaggy, dark hair looked at him. “Please help this whelp find her belongings.”
You felt incredibly small with everyone staring at you. For whatever reason not everyone carried the werewolf scent like your father did or even like your rescuers from last night. Farkas, the one who smelt most familiar, walked up to you. He was a big guy with short sleeved armor and icy eyes. He made an awkward face as he asked you to follow him downstairs.
As you walked behind him, you felt a bit more comfortable. He didn’t appear to be as threatening as everyone else. “So…I’m glad you’re still alive,” he said. You laughed to yourself. He was darling.
He opened a room and gestured to your clothes on a bed. You didn’t expect to have your belongings washed and dried. You lifted up your leather armor and you smiled as you stroked the fur lining. It was as soft and pure white as when you first purchased it. You made a pleasant noise when you remembered a time when you used to have that kind of money.
Farkas cleared his throat. When you looked at him more closely, you noticed odd but beautiful markings on his face. They weren’t too dark to be incredibly noticeable but just light enough to blend in with his skin. You originally thought he had dirt on his face.
“Erm,” he mumbled, “are you all set to go?” He didn’t want to sound too rude, but you noticed that he was a little anxious.
“Hm,” you nodded and followed Farkas back up and to the entrance.
On the way over to the stairs, his identical brother came down the steps. His armor was more elaborate. It was stainless steel with intricate markings. The two brothers were about the same height, but even with the longer armor his brother had on, Farkas was for sure bigger. His brother crossed his arms. “I was brought down here to make sure you weren’t mucking up the job,” he said smugly. You instantly disliked him.
Farkas only shrugged, obviously smart enough not to deal with the other’s arrogance. “She got her things and now she’ll leave.”
Before you pushed by the other brother, you noticed him looking you up and down then walking off like it wasn’t a big deal. “That’s Vilkas,” Farkas said. “He’s not the easiest person to get along with, but he’s very smart.”
You listened to Farkas ramble until you reached the entrance. When you got outside, you noticed a very fair woman barely wearing much and three dark streaks across her face. She looked very strong. You smiled at her and she smiled at you. “I’m Aela,” she said and brought out her hand for a shake.
You were overjoyed with shaking hands with at least one polite person today so you took hers eagerly. You gripped a little too tightly and made Aela’s face scrunch up. She gingerly laughed it off when you broke contact and made an apologetic face.
“You’re strong,” she said. “We could use another Shield-Sister in the Companions.” Farkas groaned a bit too loudly. Aela made a face at him. “And what’s your problem?”
“Remember when we talked about this? With Kodlak?” he asked. He was practically begging her not to be stubborn, but she decided to anyway.
“Kodlak favors too many people.”
“Easy for you to say. He favors you.”
They went on with their spat until Eorlund’s thundering voice interrupted them. Your childhood friend grabbed you by the hand and led you back to the Gray-Mane household.
Farkas and Aela were left watching you leave. You waved goodbye to them before fully following Eorlund home.
“We never got her name,” Farkas mused before going inside Jorrvaskr.