The Adventures of Arian

Chapter 3 - Dog Days (or Arian and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

It didn't take long for Arian to realize he had no sense of direction. The night Reundelf's hut burned down he wandered through the woods, trying to find a road or a path. Whiterun was to the south, but he had no idea where south was when the sun was down. He thought maybe he could follow the moon, but it was a new moon. So that threw him for a loop.

As day began to break, he found himself back at the burned down hut. It brought up some mixed feelings in Arian. It was where he had gained a new sense of resolve to move forward, but the guilt for being responsible still weighed heavily upon him.

However once the sun rose over the horizon, Arian was finally able to use as a means of moving south. Using the shadows of the trees from the sunlight that poked through, he managed to find direction. He spent the day wandering south, looking up every hour or so at the sun to make sure he was still going the right direction. He wandered through the dense woods that surrounded Reundelf's house as the day progressed on, and much to his embarrassment and frustration he couldn't seem to find a main trail or path to follow that could take him to civilization. Reundelf had hid himself well in the boonies of Skyrim.

Further embarrassment stemmed from the fact that Reundelf had told Arian he could make the walk to Whiterun in less than a day. And yet he was stuck wandering the forest. Arian decided his first purchase when he reached civilization would be a map.

As the sun began to set and the rumbling in his stomach was too much to bare, he began to look for food. Initially he found only mushrooms and some plants, but Arian had a desire for meat. At one point as he turned around a tree Arian saw a deer nibbling on some grass it had dug up hidden in the snow. He still had no weapons or means to catch it, so Arian quietly looked around for a sharp stick or anything he thought he could use to kill the deer. Finding a rock the size of his fist Arian carefully picked it up so as not to make any sound. The deer remained oblivious to Arian's presence and so Arian took aim.

The marksmanship that had been on show just the previous night when he threw the knife between Groatian's eyes was not present that day however as Arian missed his throw terribly, bouncing the rock off a nearby tree. The sound startled the deer and it took off in a panic, leaving Arian to bemoan his poor throwing arm. He walked over and picked the rock back up, hoping he might be able to find a better use for it later.

When it was too dark to go any further and fatigue having taken its toll on Arian, he stopped walking and took a seat next to a tree. He laid his back against the large tree and stared upwards at the night sky and watched the stars through the breaks in the trees twinkle and dance in the cloudless night. Arian let out a little sigh and shut his eyes, intent on getting some rest. He'd have to continue his journey to Whiterun the next day.

Despite his poor sense of direction, Arian realized he had a great sense for incoming danger as his eyes bolted open in the middle of the night. There was no sound that stirred him, just an eerie calm that had fallen over his surroundings. It didn't feel right and so Arian cautiously stood up and tried zero in on any noise he could. He looked around but all he could see was the darkness of the forest around him.

Finally he heard a low growl behind him and Arian slowly turned to face it. Across from him were two feral, savage looking wolves. They both snarled and gritted their teeth at Arian seemingly read to pounce. Arian felt his grip tighten around the rock, disappointed he didn't have a better weapon to fight these beasts with.

One of the wolves howled and its companion dashed at Arian. Arian spread out his stance and got ready for the wolf. The beast jumped and opened its jaw in an attempt to rip out Arian's throat. At the last moment Arian side stepped the wolf and swung his hand with the rock in it at the beasts head. He clubbed it in the side by its ear, making the wolf whimper and collapse upon hitting the ground. A bit of the wolf's blood now coated Arian's knuckle but he didn't have time to think about it.

The other wolf was circling around to Arian's side and Arian braced himself as the wolf suddenly pivoted and lunged at him. Arian swung his arm in a low arc that extended upwards and as the wolf neared Arian struck it under the chin, forcing its mouth to clench shut in a sickening noise. Arian then pivoted and circled himself to be standing beside the wolf.

He dropped the rock he was holding and Arian wrapped his arms around the wolf's neck. The wolf struggled and tried to break free, his strong torso wrestling against the muscles in Arian's arms. In an attempt to wrangle the monster Arian jumped upwards and then spread his feet out so he landed on his butt. The weight of Arian dropping to the ground brought the wolf down onto its side in a heap. It continued to try and break free but the wolf could no longer get its feet firmly planted and it just thrashed its jaws wildly. Arian struggled to keep the wolf down but he looked over and saw its companion returning to its feet so he knew he needed to end the wolf fast.

Gritting his teeth, Arian used one hand and grabbed onto the wolf's lower jaw and then with his other he grabbed the wolf's upper jaw. Tugging both in opposite directions with all the strength he could muster in his body, Arian let out quick breaths of exertion as the wolf struggled against him. Then with a grunt he pulled through and there was sickening crunch as the wolf let out a last feeble whimper. Arian dropped the wolf's limp head to the ground that it hit with a soft thud and then he stood up and wiped some sweat from his brow.

He then turned to face the other wolf who was still snarling at him with its ears pointed backwards. However it started sniffing the air and then its ears propped upwards and it turned and fled from the scene. Arian relaxed his body for a moment, confused as to why the wolf would retreat.

Then like a box of rocks was being shaken violently, Arian heard another growl coming from his side. Arian looked over but with a fierce roar a sabre cat was pouncing at him with its claws extended. Arian yelped in surprise and fell backwards as the large cat landed over top of him. His back to the ground and the sabre cat over top of him, Arian didn't have a chance to weigh his options.

The sabre cat attacked with its mouth and Arian ducked his head off to the side to avoid having his face ripped off by the animal. Another attack came in and Arian barely dodged it again. There was no time to try and stop the next attack, so as the cat's jaws almost closed in around him Arian shot his arms upwards and grabbed the sabre cat's protruding fangs. They were slippery and Arian felt his hands bleed as they gripped around the sharp long teeth, but keeping his arms extended he was able to keep the sabre cat's head at bay.

It thrashed wildly on top of Arian and Arian looked around for a weapon or anything he could use to fight the beast. There was nothing in sight, but Arian looked at a nearby tree and noticed he could probably climb the tree and gain some distance. Arian threw the sabre cat by the fangs off of him, sending the cat tumbling off to the side. He scrambled to his feet and ran to the tree but the sabre cat wasn't far behind. Arian leapt into the air and reached for the nearest branch which was eight feet off the ground, just as the sabre cat lunged again at him. Its claws just missed his feet as Arian grabbed the branch and swung himself upwards onto it.

He gave himself a moment to pant but the sabre cat was suddenly in the air again leaping up at him with a roar and Arian found himself jumping further up the tree to get away. The sabre cat landed on its feet and Arian was finally far enough up the tree to get away. Arian let out a sigh and tried to catch his breath as he sat down on the branch. Looking down, he saw the sabre cat hadn't given up its vendetta yet but instead it circled the tree below waiting for him to come down.

"Let's see who can wait longer," Arian commented as he relaxed his back to the tree.

As day broke, Arian was starting to get the feeling the sabre cat could wait longer. It was still circling him, despite the break it had taken to eat the wolf's remains. Arian was starting to get impatient and wanted to move on but he couldn't see any feasible way he could take the sabre cat in a fight without a weapon. He even considered trying to leap from tree to tree but the branches of all the surrounding trees looked brittle and wouldn't be able to support his weight.

"Stupid cat," Arian said as he looked down at the cat. He was hungry, he hadn't slept in what felt like days, and his butt was getting very sore sitting in the tree.

Suddenly there was a large roar heard in the distance and it struck a familiar chord with Arian. Standing up, he heard the roar again and looked to where it was coming from. The trees of the forest still obscured his vision and so Arian looked up and saw the branches above him were likely climbable. He shrugged his shoulders, anywhere was better than fifteen feet below where the sabre cat was waiting for him.

Taking more time than he did when the sabre cat was on his butt, Arian carefully scaled the tree to get to the top. Passing through a thicket of leaves that obscured his vision, Arian came through the other side of them to see the top of the forest. He wasn't actually too far from the forest's edge and off in the distance the snow faded and there were grassy hills, and further on there were many majestic mountains. Closer to the forest there was a windmill that's blades were spinning so it was most likely that people were there and Arian reasoned it'd make the most sense to head that way.

However a huge dissuading factor for that argument was the dragon circling around it. This time Arian got a better look at the monster as it would occasionally stop flying and breathe fire down to the ground, likely attacking people there. Its large bat like wings intimated Arian, and its reptilian head and claws made Arian feel like it could tear him apart with a thought.

Arian considered finding another way out of the forest to somewhere where there preferably wasn't a dragon. However the dragon suddenly lurched mid-air like it had been struck by something. It seemed to struggle to regain its balance but once it had it flew away from the windmill. Right towards Arian.

Panic setting in, Arian considered climbing back down so as not to be seen by the dragon. But then right as it reached the edge of the forest a stream of lightning from the ground followed and hit it in the tail. The dragon lurched again and let out a roar and it began to descend rapidly. It was on a collision course with the ground but did so in Arian's general direction. As it hit the trees the sound of bark snapping echoed throughout the sky as the forest crumpled around the dragon. Arian looked around for options as the trail of destruction kept heading towards him and Arian had little doubt it would reach him.

Not seeing many options, Arian gripped the tree tightly and braced himself. The dragon's body was slowing but it still reached the tree and knocked it over from the base and Arian felt the whole tree rock as it began to fall over. Holding on tight, Arian fell with the tree doing his best to keep his balance as it was earth bound. Just before the tree hit the ground Arian leapt from it and rolled upon landing, managing to brace his fall just enough.

He shakily stood up and looked around, nervous the sabre cat was still around. A quick glance to where the dragon had slid to a stop revealed however Arian was no longer the centre of the sabre cat's ire. The dragon lay motionless for many moments and the sabre cat was clawing and scratching at the dragon's side, trying to cause some sort of physical pain. Arian saw an opportunity to leave and get away safely but his eyes couldn't leave the large dragon.

With an unexpected sure of speed the dragon's head suddenly thrashed around and it grabbed the sabre cat in its jaws. The sabre cat roared in protest and the dragon flung the animal from its mouth. It hit a tree with a hard thud and a disgusting crack, then fell to the ground and lay motionless. Arian remained still hoping the dragon hadn't seen him.

The dragon managed to return to its feet, planting them on the ground while using the little forearms from its wings as support for its front. It seemed to shudder as if it was shaking off the fall. Its large stomach inflated and deflated as it breathed, a large ungodly sound that made Arian's skin crawl. Then the dragon turned its head to look around and saw Arian standing still. Its eye focused on Arian, the slit narrowing upon seeing him.

"Well, shit," Arian muttered.

The dragon roared and turned its full body towards Arian. Arian immediately turned tail and ran. He could hear the large dragon roar again and start charging towards him. Arian ducked and weaved in and out of trees as he ran away from the dragon, hoping maybe they'd slow him down. However there were large repeated crashing sounds and Arian looked over his head to see the dragon was just knocking the trees over with its head as it charged him.

Arian took solace in the fact that it wasn't taking to the sky to hunt him down and he continued to run desperately away from the dragon. Then the crashing sound stopped and Arian heard the dragon seemingly mutter something in a language Arian had never heard before. Again checking over his shoulder, Arian saw the dragon had stopped chasing him. Instead the dragon had opened its mouth and from a pillar of flame was heading Arian's way.

"Whoa!" Arian yelled as he dove off to the side to avoid being hit. Arian landed on his stomach but quickly planted his hands and stood back up as the dragon continued to chase Arian with its fire breath. Arian ran away from the inferno that was beginning to engulf the forest and moved around the dragon's side.

His best bet was to stay away from the dragon's mouth, so he dashed around the dragon's side to avoid the flames. Just as he thought he was safely away from the dragon's fire breath for the moment the dragon suddenly spun and Arian was caught unawares as the dragon's tail came swooping in at him. It hit Arian in the torso and sent him flying backwards and he crashed into the snow with a rough tumble.

The hit took the wind out of Arian's lungs and as he struggled to sit up he saw the dragon approaching him. Arian could feel his hands searching his surroundings for something useful he could use to fight the dragon, but there was nothing to be found.

Then suddenly from the dragon's left charged in a man with dark skin, a Redguard Arian knew, and he was duel wielding axes. The dragon was caught unawares as the man jumped in the air and swung at the dragon with one axe and hit it across the side of the face. He then landed, spun and swung again with the other axe and connected in the same spot as before. The dragon lurched in surprise but then lashed out at the man with its jaws to which the man quickly side stepped.

He swung again and hit the other side of the dragon's face but the dragon this time threw its head into the Redguard, sending him off his feet. One of the axes went flying from his grip and landed near Arian and Arian eyed it with interest. Just then the dragon seemed to mumble again, preparing another wave of fire breath but it received a lightning bolt in the side, which made the whole dragon's body shake from the force. Arian looked to the source and saw another, skinnier man standing there in a dark purple robe, lightning crackling from the man's hands.

With a growl the dragon finished its incantation and fired a wave of fire breath at the man which seemingly consumed him. Then as the fire breath faded, the man was fine, having held up a ward spell powerful enough to deflect the dragon's fire breath. He then cast another lightning bolt and the dragon's whole upper body went upwards in shock and pain as it roared. When it landed it swung its tail wildly and the wizard took the hit with a hard thud.

Arian was worried the force of the attack would have been enough to break the smaller man but he stood up seemingly uninjured. The wizard cast a quickly healing incantation on himself and then went and stood beside his comrade who was still on the ground. Another wave of fire breath came in and it looked like it was taking all the wizard's energy to hold up a ward spell to keep him and his friend safe.

Arian's eyes darted around, looking for a way to help the two who had saved his life. His eyes went to the axe that was still on the ground and he ran for it. Picking it up, Arian then deked behind a tree to hide for a moment. With a peek around the corner, he saw the dragon hadn't noticed him yet. Its attention still on the two, Arian maneuvered his way through the trees and snuck around behind the dragon. Now to the dragon's side Arian took a deep calming breath and then charged in.

The dragon still hadn't noticed Arian as the wizard's ward was about to fade and then him and his comrade would be finished. Just then Arian leapt into the air and landing on the dragon's wing Arian used it as a spring board and jumped towards the dragon's head. The shock of this made the dragon cease its fire and careen its head around to address Arian but Arian grabbed onto one of the spikes on the dragon's neck and held on. Arian held on tight as the dragon tried to turn itself properly to face him, but Arian was far enough up the dragon's neck that it was too awkward of an angle for the dragon to properly reach him. In Arian's other hand was the axe and with a hard swing he chopped into the dragon's neck.

Penetrating its scales, the axe drew blood from the dragon. The dragon roar and tried to shrug Arian off, but Arian wasn't letting go. He swung in again at the same spot making the cut even deeper and the dragon continued to roar. It breathed fire up in the air in protest as Arian hacked it again. After a fourth hit, the dragon seemed to be growing more sluggish from the punishment he was taking, and its neck relaxed enough for Arian to gain a better grip on it.

Giving up on taking out Arian, the dragon focused its attention on at least trying to kill the wizard and the warrior who had done so much preliminary damage to it. Arian heard it muttering again to breathe fire and he knew he couldn't let that happen to these two after they saved him. They weren't going to be Reundelf again. Taking a leap of faith, Arian stood up on the dragon's neck and balanced himself precariously. With a calming deep breath Arian leapt up high into the air with the axe over his head, gripping it in both of his hands.

Just before the dragon could attack, Arian landed and swung downwards with the axe using all the force he could muster. The axe cut deep into the dragon's head, lodging itself in the dragon's brain. The dragon hissed as a puff of smoke escaped its lungs. It thrashed around for another moment but then the dragon crumpled on top of itself. The one powerful, lucky hit was enough for Arian to claim his first dragon kill. Arian panted in exhaustion, and as he removed the axe the dragon twitched uncontrollably, making Arian lose his balance and fall off the dragon. Considering the grace he had just shown in the fight, this was an embarrassing turn of events.

The wizard and the warrior were back on their feet then, looking at Arian in awe. Arian sat back up from the snow and rubbed the back of his neck in pain but then he looked at the two as they approached him.

"Here's your axe back," Arian commented and he casually tossed the axe to the Redguard. He caught it easily, but still stared at Arian in a mixture of shock and distrust.

"Well…who needs a dragonborn?" the wizard asked with a laugh. "Apparently anyone can kill a dragon!"

"It wasn't exactly easy," Arian replied, feeling offended.

"Oh don't get me wrong, I am grateful," the wizard corrected. "We had been chasing the beast for hours. Thank goodness someone got the killing blow after all our hard work."

Arian's eyebrows narrowed with dislike. Everything this wizard seemed to say was a back-handed insult. Theron took a glance around at the trees the dragon had lit on fire and raising his palm he started to cast an ice spell to put out the flames.

"Where are my manners, I am Theron," the wizard said with a low bow, still using one outstretched hand to extinguish the fire. "And this is my muscle for hire, Perrion." The Redguard grunted in response and Arian stood up hesitantly.

"I'm Arian," he said, and then looked at the dragon. "Why were the two of you chasing this thing around?"

"To study it you see," Theron explained as he walked over to the dragon's head. Resting a hand on it he elaborated, "We wanted to see if one could be killed without the dragonborn's help. Now that we know, there are further experiments to conduct."

"Like what?" Arian asked as he crossed his arms, intrigued.

"Oh, you wouldn't understand," Theron said casually. "It's above the head of the like of you."

Arian wanted to argue but then he realized he didn't even know where he was. As much as he hated to admit it, at this moment he had no idea what was even going on so Theron pretty much had him pegged.

"Well…can you guys at least point me in the direction out of this forest? I'm kind of backwards now," Arian asked, rue he was to request help from this arrogant jerk.

"Certainly," Theron said. "Simply follow the dragon's trail of debris to the windmill. From there you should be able to know where to go, yes?" Theron motioned to the very obvious path of destruction the dragon had left making Arian feel even more stupid.

"Thanks," Arian said as he walked by the two to walk down the dragon's trail.

"May we meet again," Theron said with another low bow.

As Arian walked past Perrion, Perrion suddenly raised an axe and stopped Arian in his tracks.

"If we meet again, I'll end you for stealing my kill," Perrion said in a low growl.

Arian raised an eyebrow, but then pushed Perrion aside and kept walking. Perrion made a noise like an angry dog but Theron stopped him.

"Enough Perrion. Help me start to dismember this behemoth," Theron ordered and Arian walked away more confused than before. But after a spending almost two days in the forest, he was more eager to leave then to ask questions.

It took Arian fifteen minutes to get out of the forest following the trench the dragon had created. He was just happy to finally have a walking path to go on. Once he reached the edge of the forest, Arian felt more overwhelmed then when he had initially peeked out over top of the forest. There was suddenly a huge open world in front of him filled with green grass, large mountains, and settlements Arian could see all over the field. In the distance he saw a large city surrounded by wooden walls with a large hall on top of a hill. Whiterun, he realized.

"Wow," was all Arian could say, his breath taken away. For the first time since he gazed out over the ocean when he left that cave he felt like was a part of the world again.

With a look to his left Arian saw the windmill that the dragon had been attacking. The area around was still ablaze and he could see a couple people trying to put out the fire. A farm house and small field of crops were on fire, and Arian could see the people there ill-equipped to deal with the fire.

Letting out a little sigh, Arian commented, "You think I'd be done with fire." He ran over to the scene, where he saw a bald older man dashing back and forth from the fire to a well with a bucket, scooping up water. There was also a middle-aged woman with grey hair using a blanket to try and damper the fire spreading around the field of crops.

"Hey! How can I help?" Arian called as he neared them. The old man was refilling at the well and gave Arian a wry look, confused as Arian approached.

"What?" the man asked, confused.

"How can I help? I've seen fire ruin enough things, let me help at least fix one of its messes," Arian explained. The man stared confused Arian for a few moments but then he reached down and grabbed a blanket he had laying there.

"Here, help my wife save some of the crops!" he said as he tossed Arian the blanket. "A house we can rebuild, crops can't be!" Arian nodded and ran towards the woman with the blanket. She was swatting at the flames trying to smother them and Arian ran to another side of the field and began doing the same on the opposite side.

The heat had nothing on the inferno Arian got caught in when he was trapped in Reundelf's hut, but it was still making him sweat. After Arian managed to put out the fire in one area he strategically made his way over to another to try and cut the fire off at the knees. He was able to work harder and faster than the woman, who was struggling to put one fire. Arian noticed how fatigued she was starting to seem and got the impression she was about to faint.

Running over to he called, "Hey, don't push yourself!" He got to her just in time, right before she fell in the fire. Holding her up, Arian lightly patted her on the cheek to try and wake her back up. Her eyes slowly reopened and she looked at Arian in confusion, the black-out taking a toll on her.

"Are you okay? Can you stand?" Arian asked and she feebly nodded in response. Helping her back to her feet, Arian took a moment to make sure she actually could stand before backing up a step.

"Listen, go over to the well and see if you can help your husband. I got this," Arian instructed and he went back to putting out the fire. She seemed hesitant at first, but eventually she made her way back over to the well as Arian continued to extinguish the flames.

What felt like an hour later Arian had managed to put out the fires in the field. The old man had managed to put out the house as well seemingly saving most of it, and now Arian sat in the field catching his breath. Wolves, sabre cats, a dragon, and a fire. It had been an exhausting day.

"How many of the crops look saveable?" the old man asked as he approached Arian. Arian looked around at the field and shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm no farmer so I can't say for sure. Half maybe?" Arian guessed.

"Well, I'll count our blessings," the old man commented and then he extended a hand for Arian to take. "My name is Olarg. And my wife is Isaldi."

"Arian," Arian replied as he took the man's hand and stood up. "So how's the house?"

"Well, we'll have to get some gold to repair it. Luckily the dragon didn't get to the windmill where we keep our wheat and hay, no thanks to that wizard and his grunt. They seemed keener on studying the damn thing," Olarg commented.

"Yeah I ran into them in the forest. They weren't exactly grateful that I took care of the dragon for them," Arian said.

"You killed the dragon?" Olarg asked, impressed. "Are you the dragonborn?"

"No. Well, at least I don't think so," Arian answered with an honest shrug. "I'm pretty sure I didn't eat its soul."

"Looks like we owe you more than the just the field," Olarg commented but Arian shook his hands in protest.

"Hey I was just happy to help. I've had a rough couple of days and it feels good to add something to the win column," Arian replied.

"At least let us cook you dinner," Olarg insisted. "Then if you're interested I can give you a ride to Whiterun tomorrow morn."

Arian looked over his shoulder where Whiterun was located and contemplated the offer. He was getting awfully tired of walking and his stomach hadn't stopped rumbling from the day before.

"You know what, sure," Arian said. "I'll take you up on that." Then Arian looked at the windmill and field, and despite everything he had been through he didn't quite feel like he was quite ready to relax yet. Clasping his hands together he asked, "Is there any more work I can do to maybe earn a bit of gold?"

Olarg managed a little laugh as he looked at Arian. Shaking his head he said, "You know what son, I like you."

Arian spent the remainder of the afternoon helping Olarg shovel wheat from the windmill onto a carriage and he helped to dismember parts of the farmhouse that would need to be replaced with better wood. Farming work was tougher then he thought it'd be, but considering there was no immediate danger to his person he was considerably more relaxed doing it. Throughout the day he talked to Olarg and Isaldi, learning more about who they were.

They had five children but had lost three to differing reasons. The oldest had left to fight in the imperial army but he had died in an early skirmish while the youngest daughter had died of the plague. The second youngest had died when he was a toddler, having gotten too close to the forest and was snatched by a sabre cat. As for the other two, one was living in Whiterun, a young woman now named Ysolda who had dreams of being a merchant. The other was named Onmund, and he had left to study magic at the College of Winterhold.

The loss of all the children had left the two in dire straits Arian learned, as they were now forced to do all the farm work themselves. Olarg had explained they wanted to hire a few farm hands to help but they weren't making enough gold to do so. They especially wouldn't now after losing half their crop. Arian thought about it, and if he could ever save up enough gold he'd want to hire some farm hands for them. That was still off in the future however and Arian did his best to stay rooted in the present.

As dinner rolled around as the sun was setting, Isaldi cooked the remains of some cattle meat. The three sat around the table in the farm house staying in the living room. There was a fireplace across the door where Isaldi had cooked, and chests and other possessions lined the wall opposite the stair case leading to upstairs. The second floor wasn't being used at the moment however, as Olarg was worried putting too much stress on it made cause some of the damage wood to give way. So many of their things from upstairs, including their bed, were now downstairs by the stair case.

Arian was gorging himself on the cattle, some vegetables, and a little bit of wine the two had been saving. He was cramming food in his mouth so rapidly Olarg and Isaldi were taken a bit aback. Arian would jump from a mouth full of stack to sticking a giant leaf of cabbage in his face and swallowing it down with a drink of wine in the span of about ten seconds.

"Careful now, we can't have our hero choke on us," Isaldi said smiling.

Arian took a moment to swallow his food properly and then grabbed a breath of air.

"Sorry, I'm just really hungry," Arian commented with a sheepish laugh.

"Evidently," Olarg responded laughing. "Thank you truly for all your help today Arian. I don't know how we would've managed."

"It's no problem, I was happy to…to help," Arian managed to say through a yawn. Looking down at his plate, he still had half his meal left, but he was suddenly extremely tired.

"Maybe it's time for me to hit the hay," Arian commented.

"Wait before you do that, we have something for you," Olarg said. Arian looked at the two curiously for a moment as Olarg stood up and walked over to a chest sitting in the corner of the room. Quickly blowing the dust off, Olarg grabbed a key that was hitched to his belt and unlocked the chest. Arian watched as Olarg pulled a large great sword from the chest, an old Nordic blade that sharped into a deadly point at the end. Runes were etched into the blade from a language Arian couldn't read.

"We'd like you to have this," Isaldi said. "As a thank you for everything you did for us today."

"It was our son's sword," Olarg explained. "He had it when he died in battle and the Imperial army sent it back with his body."

"I…I can't accept this," Arian refused. "This is something really valuable to you guys, and we pretty much just met this afternoon."

"I know, but it's not getting any use here," Olarg argued. "I'm too old to fight with it, and Onmund is too busy learning magic."

"I can't," Arian simply said. "It wouldn't feel right."

"There aren't too many good people left in Skyrim," Isaldi said, and Arian looked over to her and saw tears welling up in her eyes. "Our son was one of them. But he's gone, and here you are, a good person who helped an old weary couple get through their day with little thought to yourself. Please, take his sword."

Arian looked from her to Olarg and then to the sword. That sword had belonged to someone else, and Arian just felt wrong taking it. Isaldi's words did strike Arian though, and he was touched that they felt like he was as good as their son. Maybe by using the sword, with time, Arian could make the memory of a good man proud.

"Okay, I will," Arian said. "But only because you two are more stubborn then a dragon." The last statement drew a laugh from Olarg and Isaldi, and Arian reached forward and took the great sword from Olarg's hands. It had a nice weight and balance to it, and Arian wished he had had a weapon like this when battling all the wild animals the night before. They wouldn't have stood a chance.

"We've set up a little cot for you in the windmill," Isaldi said. "It should be warm enough in there."

Arian stood up from the table yawning and rubbed his eyes as he said, "Thanks you guys. I really appreciate it."

"After everything today, we still feel indebted you," Olarg stated. "Now get some rest, I'll wake you in the morning when it's time to leave."

Arian nodded in understanding and walked out of the farm house, sword in hand. He made his way over to the windmill but paused once and looked up at the sky. While he may have been able to see the stars from the forest, now he could see the aurora borealis gleaming across the Skyrim night sky. Arian took a moment to take it all in and then continued to walk over to the windmill.

The cot Olarg and Isaldi had set up was a nice touch but the large pile of wheat and hay looked infinitely more comfortable in Arian's current state of mind. Letting himself fall backwards into it, Arian couldn't even feel the prickliness of the pile, it felt like he was lying on a cloud. As Arian drifted into sleep, he thought about everything that had happened in the last few days since Reundelf's hut.

From scrounging to survive, fighting for his life and working on a farm. Just the dog days of life, Arian thought to himself with a little smile as his eyes closed for the night. He was finally able to enjoy a good night of sleep.

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