Mutt

Mutt

She had never been one for fighting. The weaving in and out of his throws came natural to her. She was an Agent, not some warrior. She was for the silent glory, the background player. The light twittering of a flute, not some heavy beaten drum; and certainly no match for Vilkas.

He grasped her wrist suddenly, and she was airborne before she knew it. The bitter taste of her own blood exploded in her mouth with fire like intensity. She was coughing, spitting up the dust and dirt, unable to see the next blow coming through her sweat laden hair. She was pinned, face to the dust, unable to move beneath the sheer weight of the heavily armored man.

“Mutt,” she hissed, words seething with poison. She knew their secret, and she was currently battling for the freedom from the beast blood. Her soul would not be promised to some Daedra.

“You have no choice, Skjor will kill you, and if not Skjor, surely Aela.” She had seen that idiot brother of his change before her eyes while she was trapped in the ruins by some trap laid by a rival group. One who sought to rid the world of the wolf blooded.

“My life is not yours, nor his.” She was trying to find any opening she could. Finally she threw all her weight up with a burst of flame, knocking him from her in surprise. Her hands cackled and her grey eyes were now a bright green, reflecting the flame that engulfed her.

“Idiot child.” He said drawing the great sword on his back. The thing was as long as she was, she needed to stay as far out of his reach as she could. She mumbled softly, calling forth her might before thrusting her fist above her head, sending a ring of flame out from her, a dark figure began to swarm between them, taking shape, then finally coming to this plane, her guardian, a flame atronach.

“Enough! Both of you!” The voice boomed and in an instant they were both flanked. Her wild pumpkin locks continued to obscure her peripheral view, but she didn’t need it to know it was the Harbinger. The old man, who now stood between them, a fair distance from the atronach, but still between them. “Boy put the blade away, you really want to die here.”

“Die!” He growled. “This welp couldn’t kill a fly. She’s a milk drinker, a druid, a weakling!” His face was distorted into disgust.

“Yes, die, she’s no warrior by her strengths can outshine yours Vilkas, now put the blade away before I take it from you.” He ordered one more time. She stood, tense as she watched the exchange. There was by no way the old man meant it, his distrust for mages was no secret. The old man looked at her, but there was no hate there, more compassion than she had seen in a long time.

“I will not be bound to some accursed Daedra who wants nothing more than a good hunt!” Her hatred seethed from her gritted teeth. She was firm in her words.

“And who would you choose to be bound to?” He asked crossing his arms.

“Whoever I damn well choose!” She raised her chin in defiance as the flaming guardian danced and swirled through the air, leaving a trail of embers in its wake. He seemed to chuckle at that. He waved both of them forward, Vilkas uneasily sheathed his sword as she moved foreward, shaking her fists to discharge the flames.

“Shake.” The old man commanded. They obeyed, if rather reluctantly. “One day you’re going to miss her Vilkas, and you will need her presence more than you will know. She’s the key to saving the damned.” They stared each other down, grasping one another’s forearms, a custom of Imperials, but they did it to ensure the other did not pull a blade, staring each other in the eyes, her grey ones smoldering beneath her heavy lashes, his was boiling just beneath the surface. The Alpha in him wouldn’t allow himself to turn away and her stubbornness wouldn’t allow it either.

The old man huffed, his brows furrowing in aggravation. “You’re both like damn puppies, ones who don’t know their damn place!” They were both startled enough to drop the other’s gaze and stare at him instead.  He grabbed her by her collar and drug her inside, away from the fuming Nord.  “What do you call that?” He said evenly as they entered the living quarters of the mead hall.

“They are trying to make me do something I don’t want!” She hissed. “I sure as shit do not want the beast blood. If they like it, fine, but that don’t mean I must have it.”

“It is an initiation into the circle.” His voice was still even.

“Initiation or not, usually being initiated is something sought after. Have there never been members of the circle who did not have the beast blood?” Her question stopped him in the middle of the hall. The old man seemed to ponder her words before finally turning to her.

“Yes.” He said simply, no other explanation given and none really to be had. The Companions did not always have beast blood in them, and she had every right to deny what the others considered a gift.

She didn’t even ask for an explanation further than that. Instead she stood in the Harbingers room, quietly scanning old tomes of lore and history. Her grey eyes saught ancient information from the weathered pages. She spent many of the following weeks like this, engaging in quiet conversation when he asked for it.  It was time for the harvest the next time she was asked about from any of the others, and this was simply to state she needed not be here if she wasn’t a warrior. She brushed off the comment without much thought and continued into her studies.

Kodlak would sometimes ask her questions, watching her quiet eyes move rapidly through the pages. She was the one from his dreams, the one who had come to lift the curse. It would be wise to keep such a friend on the side of the companions. There were concerns about her being here, but the old man continued with the same answer. “Have you always thought companions were not magic wielders?”

It was true many of the first 500 companions had been great warriors with no magical ability, but there were some tales of Dragon born and Mages among the ranks over time. Kodlak had tasked Aela with teaching her more in Archery and Farkas to teach her more about the blade, a small one meant for a small warrior. She had the ability to hit a target from a great distance but her sword arm was weak.

***

Lila spent the next several months along side the Companions. The question of her taking the beast blood had never been brought back up since that incident. Whether they thought her too weak, or just unfitting for the blood she didn’t care. All she did care though was of these old tomes.

She spent some time out on the yard daily with Aela, practicing her marksmanship. Sometimes Farkas would come fetch her at the request of the old man. She didn’t mind this either, however she felt like she was teaching them more on how to defend themselves against magic than they were teaching her basic skills with a sword.

She improved slowly with the short sword, but did much better with daggers. Anything that could be thrown, would be thrown by her, sometimes including chairs or random pieces of table ware. The taunting from Vilkas rubbed her the wrong way. She absolutely hated the way he stared at her, like some quarry that had yet to be caught.

His blue eyes watched as she scrunched her face at him. She was marred with freckles and didn’t quite fit what most Breton’s looked like. She wasn’t some famed beauty, that was for sure, and although her magic was fearsome, he felt it wasn’t near that of the Hagraven’s hiding in their nooks. She was unimpressive, but there was a spark in her, something the others seemed to lack. She was like a young pup fighting for her place. He liked watching her when she was like this.

She had abandoned her long sleeves for tunics that were cut at the shoulders, something easier for her to draw a bow, and there were days she forgoes the leggings in favor of the ability to maneuver easily between the tree line. Lila didn’t know she had company on those days, the days where she hid away from the others. She cut through the water like she was made for it.

Vilkas had stumbled upon her by accident really. He had been out on a job when he crossed her path. In his beast form, he was much quieter than she was. She had skipped lightly over the stones by the falls, crossing his path without even knowing. It was a split second decision, but he had followed her, wondering what the little sprite could be getting up to.

It had surprised him to find her alone at the hidden pool. It surprised him that she had found it on her own. He watched her throw her boots behind her followed by her cut off tunic. She had wrapped her most delicate features like he had never seen, just simple cloth, wrapped over her delicate frame. Shame crept through him as he realized how vulnerable she was just now.

This was the famed Dragonborn. This was what legends were made of. Except, she didn’t seem like the Hero of Man, not like the songs told. She wasn’t of great strength or ability with a sword. Her strengths lied in that damn ability she hid so well at first. He had found out Lila was an efficient caster the day of the brawl. Some mages are tired by their works, but it was if she were made of flame.

He began to follow her daily to her hiding spot. He would circle the area quietly, watching for any sign of trouble. Something tugged at his chest daily to keep her safe. This made him feel like he was turning into some guard dog in a sense. Rarely did he catch the scent of anything worse than a wolf, which was easily scared away by his size.

Lila didn’t know about her companion when she went for her daily swims. She just knew she was called to the water, the way it flowed from the falls, ran through the forests to quietly pool in secret locations. She had found such a wonderous spot not far from Whiterun. She came daily to rinse off in the water while she swam from one shore to the next on her small pond.

Sometimes she would just sit in the late sun’s light, idly kicking her legs in the water while she read. There were times she thought she could hear wolves nearby, and when she did she was immediately within the water, up to her eyes, using a water breathing enchantment on her ring, just so she wouldn’t die while she waited for the danger to pass. Unless she was able to sneak up on her prey, she did not like combat. She wasn’t a real threat unless she could keep her distance and cast spells while firing arrows. If anything came close she lost her edge.

It was here she heard the summon, shaking the entire Nirn around her. She lost her balance and fell into the pool of cool water, forgetting she wouldn’t drown in her frantic goal to resurface. She shot out of the water, slinging her head back to throw her growing locks from her face. Gasping at the sweet air, a sudden heat found itself against the back of her neck. She turned slowly to face the beast, his eyes cold in the dark sockets. Fur short but thick, standing on end as a low growl escaped its throat.

Although she was face to face with a giant wolf, she didn’t feel threatened. She stood staring into his eyes, his locked on hers and she felt her face heat from embarrassment. Realizing that she had been followed here, to her secret spot, to her quiet place of study. Before they could realize her reaction, the blow hand landed against the right side of his muzzle and he growled loudly.

“You son of a milk drinking bitch!” She shrieked and was out of the water, slapping the beast across its snout and head. She grasps his ears harshly and pulls. “Who are you!? Which one and why are you here!?” Her words were as sharp as knives. His breath was a snort, hot against her exposed shoulders and neck. She smacked again before he finally jerked away, she was grabbing at what she could. Her child like reaction was rewarded and she ripped an ebony wolf from the giant beasts neck. It only took a few moments to examine it to realize it was one of the brothers. “You dirty bastard!” She hissed again and her whole body shook with the power caged within her small frame. “Run.” She spat her only warning like venom and it took.

Vilkas was halfway down the mountain path when he heard the shout and the debris clanging behind him. In the Dragon tongue her voice was thick, her Thu’um had an accent he couldn’t place, but he did know one thing. Just how deadly the Thu’um really was. Toryyg had made the mistake of underestimating it, Vilkas wouldn’t do the same.  It didn’t take long for the little sprite to come bursting the doors of the mead hall. She was steaming, literally steaming, her entire body engulfed with flames. Her normally grey eyes vibrant in the flickering flames that danced over her petite frame. You could smell the singed hide of the boots she wore.

“Which of you bastards followed me there!?” She spat. When the hall just stared at her, some shrugging, some disregarding her altogether. “Yol!” The Thu’um had the desired effect as the food and tableware in the center of the long hall table exploded through the room in a fiery rain.

“Hey, hey! Watch it!” Farkas barked, his anger visible. “Why’d you go and do that for?” He was standing, hands planted firmly on the rail in front of him, ready to pounce at the firey little devil.

“This!” She screeched, throwing the pendant into the center of the floor in front of her. Her smoldering eyes ablaze beneath her dark lashes and firey hair.

“Me, it was me!” Is what he wanted to say, had tried to say before Farkas bounded over the rail and grabbed up the small wolf.

“Me, I followed you.” He said harshly, matter of factly. There was no room to question his words. He was in her face, fearless in the heat of the flames.

“Because?” She hissed through her clenched teeth. Farkas was down in her face in a moment, his hot breath brushing her freckled face. He was close to her, to close for Vilkas’s comfort. For some reason seeing his brother this close to the Breton made something in his stomach knot.

“You are weak.” He said harshly and walked away from her, throwing the wolf to the ground behind him as he left. The entire room was shocked, stunned to silence.

The entire hall was quiet for days after the event where the little one had run in and burned half of the hall in her outrage. She kept to herself, not even speaking with Kodlak. She stayed silently in the halls beneath the common room. She read her books, paced the halls, and utterly ignored everyone. At least until she noticeably started preparing for something. Her pack was neatly gathered, her bow and sword. Tied to her pack was a string of books and scrolls, on the back a small pan, nothing of much merit, but there nonetheless.

“I’m leaving,” she announced one evening as we were all gathered in the common hall. No one really took notice of her except Kodlak. He nodded in his sage manner a simply bid her travels well.  “This will be our last meeting.” He stated oddly. A hot mug raising to his lips. She stopped and responded something Vilkas or the others could make out, but the old man nodded knowingly once more and continued his attention on the meal before him.

Vilkas stared quietly after her. At first at her feet as they shuffled across the wood floor, silently in her small wake. There was something final about this meeting. Something solemn he couldn’t quite pick up on as she left their company.

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